Challenges in access and reduced extension services are curtailing uptake of hybrid seeds among smallholder farmers.
The latest Access to Seed Index Report has called for an inclusive approach to the breeding program informed by among others the farmers’ needs, climate variations, seed quality and capacity building for farmers to boost uptake of quality seeds and consequently food security.
Agriculture contributes 33% of Kenya’s GDP. According to the latest Access to Seed Index, challenges in accessing hybrid seed varieties and their high cost is an impediment to the sectors’ output.
The report has highlighted the lag by private seed companies in offering extension services especially among smallholder farmers that are hampering the uptake of hybrid seeds.
East African Seed Company has been ranked top among the 22 seed companies servicing the East African and South African region based on seven parameters comprising seed production, intellectual property, genetic resources, and capacity building.
Stakeholders were further called upon to embrace an integrative approach in breeding programs that take into account farmers needs, varied climatic conditions, pest and disease resistance and as well as the ease of use, especially among smallholder farmers.
Going forward private seed companies have been urged to invest in anti-counterfeit strategies such as branding as well as awareness campaigns that will help farmers differentiate genuine products to counterfeits.
This is expected to cushion farmers from losses as a result of the use of substandard seed varieties.