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Outlets selling counterfeit seeds put on notice

The government has ordered a crackdown on all agrovets selling uncertified seeds to unsuspecting farmers, thus contributing to food insecurity in the country.

Consequently, Agriculture and Livestock Development Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has directed the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) to work closely with the relevant authorities with a view to ensuring all unscrupulous business people found perpetrating the vice are promptly apprehended and prosecuted in accordance with the law.

He further warned such agrovets selling uncertified seeds that they risk cancellation of their licenses, so as to curb rampant cases of farmers being conned, especially during this period when farmers are heading closer to the planting season.

“As a government, we will certainly impose stringent measures to ensure our farmers only plant certified seeds,” said Linturi, while speaking at Utangwa Market in Mbooni West Sub County, where he commissioned the Utangwa Small Irrigation Scheme Project on Thursday.

“While promising to open a Kenya Seed Company (KSC) branch in Mbooni, the CS urged farmers to buy certified seed from government stockists in order to improve their yields and ensure food security in the country.

“Buy your seeds only from KSC and other licensed outlets so that your production can improve, even as the government works on plans to put up a branch here,” he noted.

“I have heard the cry of farmers from all over the country and even here in Mbooni, where I am reliably informed that some farmers were sold some fake ‘nduma’ maize seeds that never germinated or got stunted, leaving the farmers in distress.

At the same time, the CS challenged farmers in Makueni County to position themselves to benefit from the upcoming Thwake dam, which will irrigate 40,000 acres of land in the larger Ukambani region once completed.

“The Kenya Kwanza government is undertaking construction of the mega Thwake dam, with a capacity of 688 cubic million litres of water for both domestic and irrigation purposes, which will be a game changer for the people of Makueni and Kitui counties,” he said.

Additionally, the CS promised to construct a cold room for horticultural products in Mbooni West to save farmers from exploitation by middlemen who offer them low prices for their perishable goods, only for the brokers to sell the same at higher prices later on.

During the function, Linturi also launched three dryers to help farmers in the Lower Eastern region to dry their maize to avoid post-harvest losses, where Machakos, Kitui, and Makueni counties will each get one dryer.

However, the CS promised to add one drier for Makindu sub-county following a request made by his host, Makueni Governor Mutula Kilonzo Jnr.

The launch was done at the Wote National Cereals and Produce Board offices, where Linturi also flagged off 1,700 bags of subsidised fertiliser that will be distributed to farmers in Makueni County.

On his part, Mutula asked the national government to open an Agricultural Training Centre to help train youths and women on new innovative methods to boost crop production in the region.

“With such an agricultural college, farmers planting French beans, for instance, can get skills in that field to improve on food production,” he emphasised.

The governor also said that a cold room will be constructed in the area to save mango farmers from exploitation by middlemen, who buy the commodity at throwaway prices.

“It is wrong for our farmers to sell their mangoes at Sh10 per kilogramme to brokers, who later sell the same at Sh200,” lamented Mutula.

By Patrick Nyakundi and Emmaculate Kinyumu

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