Summary of results:
Ranking fourth in the Regional Index, Kenya Seed Company exhibits a number of strengths related to improving access to seeds for smallholder farmers, particularly in Marketing & Sales. The company has implemented a robust feedback system, using multiple mechanisms and personal engagement during field days, to ensure local knowledge and feedback are incorporated into its marketing & sales program. Feedback on its R&D program is also collected, including from women farmers, through stakeholder meetings and representatives in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The company is encouraged to formally disclose its commitments to increase access to seeds for smallholder farmers.
Operations in Scope
- Countries in Scope
- Company Presence
- Production Locations
- Breeding Station/R&D
Kenya Seed Company has contributed its own germplasm to collaborative projects aimed at developing varieties useful for smallholder farmers, donating drought-tolerant maize to CIMMYT’s Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa project (DTMA) in Kenya and disease-resistant maize to the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project.
The company uses text messages (SMS), social media, a complaint-handling system, market surveys and an interactive website to collect feedback from smallholder farmers, including women, to inform its R&D and marketing activities. Feedback is also gathered during annual field days, demonstrations and shows. Furthermore, the company uses field visits as a more personal way of addressing farmers’ complaints, and listening to advice on performance evaluations of its varieties in Regional Index countries.
The company sells open-pollinated varieties (OPVs) and a variety of seed grades, including hand plant (HP), medium flat (MF) and large flat (LF) for machine planting. In addition, packaging is adapted to suit differing farmer capacities, including maize sold in packs of 2kg, 5kg and 10kg.
Index Crops in Portfolio
|Global Field Crops|
|Global Vegetable Crops|
|Local Field Crops|
|Local Vegetable Crops|
Areas for Improvement
Kenya Seed Company states that its ambition is to become the leading supplier of top seed in Africa. However, its mission and strategy with regards to smallholder farmers could be made considerably more explicit.
The company could also consider expanding its advisory services for women farmers beyond Kenya to all the countries where it is active.
Kenya Seed Company has lobbied for seed policy development, reviews of seed regulations and harmonization of seed regulations in the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
The company collaborates with the national seed bank in Kenya and the international gene banks at CIMMYT and ICRISAT. It is working on drought resistance and virus or disease resistance for maize with CIMMYT, and on drought resistance and improved nutrition for sorghum and finger millet with ICRISAT.
The company provides crop protection and management services, agronomy services and soil testing in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. It does so in collaboration with a number of organizations, including One Acre Fund, Soil Cares and the Pest Control & Product Board of Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture.
The company has helped to bring several crops from research institutes to market, such as CIMMYT’s Ua Kayongo and KSDTV maize in Kenya; Nerica (New Rice for Africa) rice in Kenya; maize, and wheat varieties in Rwanda; and maize varieties in Burundi.
The company has implemented partially certified quality assurance systems to ensure that seeds are of good quality when purchased by smallholder farmers in Regional Index countries. It reports ISO 9001: 2008, ISO 17025 and ISTA certifications and OECD seed schemes via the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS). Kenya Seed Company and KEPHIS undertake post-certification surveys and varietal purity verification and monitor the validity of shelf life of seed throughout the value chain.
To prevent the distribution of counterfeit seeds in the countries where it operates, Kenya Seed Company uses measures including labeling, lot numbering and traceability, and differentiated packaging materials. It also organizes training programs and agricultural shows for distributors to build quality assurance capacity.
The company launched a year-long women farmers’ education program in Kenya, reaching approximately a thousand women farmers. However, it is unclear whether this program is being continued.
The company states that it supports farmer cooperatives by offering 60-day credit facilities in Rwanda and credit on an annual basis in Kenya.
The company produces seeds in four out of the nine countries where it operates. In all four of these countries, the company licenses out its production although in Kenya, its home base, it also runs seed production activities itself.