NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
A shortage of
certified crop seed stocks and limited crop choices at local dealers threatens
food security amid severe drought caused by lack of failed rains in Kenya, warns
a new study released in Nairobi on Tuesday.
which was carried out by Nairobi-based Bayesian Consulting Group, found farmers’
demand for certified seed regularly exhausted stocks at dealer shops,
particularly for non-maize seeds.
The lack of
seed for crops other than maize impedes efforts to fight climate change through
crop diversification, says the study.
the study, 51 percent of the agrodealers interviewed said they cannot keep up
with farmer demand for certified seed.
“While we are
glad to hear farmers’ demand for certified seed is rising rapidly, it is
frustrating to learn that many dealers lack both the quantity and variety of
seeds Kenyan farmers need to avoid drought-induced devastation,” said Anastasia
Mbatia, a seed distribution specialist at Agri Experience.
which was commissioned by Kenya Markets Trust, through its implementing partner
in crop seeds, Agri Experience, a Nairobi-based seed consulting firm, finds
local dealers could play a pivotal role in helping farmers adapt to climate
change, yet their assistance is severely limited by a shortage of certified crop
seed stocks and financing options.
report shows is that as growing conditions become more challenging, the fight
for food security in Kenya may be won or lost with rural dealers,” said Mbatia.
found that over 80 percent of Kenya’s agrodealer shop owners have a college,
graduate or post graduate level education. Therefore, they have the expertise to
steer farmers to seed and inputs that can help them adapt to shifts in growing
positive finding from the study is that between 2014 and 2015, agrodealers
posted an 85 percent increase in the volume of maize seeds they stocked and
another 27 percent jump in the 2016 long rains season.
important, because maize harvests in Kenya, which average about 1.6 metric tons
per hectare, lag far behind the global average of 5.6 metric tons. Wider use of
certified seed for improved maize varieties is viewed as essential to closing
this chronic “yield gap.”
frustrating that crop breeders have developed varieties that could protect
Kenyan farmers from drought, yet too often seeds for these crops simply are not
easily accessible for farmers,” said Noel Templer, a research manager at Agri
agriculture experts note, improved varieties of crops like beans, sorghum and
millet would be far better choices than maize when climate forecasts warn of
demand for high quality certified seed justifies extending affordable credit to
agrodealers to boost their inventory,” said Templer.
study, financing for agrodealers emerged as a major barrier to offering farmers
a wider menu of seed choices.”
while all of the agrodealers said they carried maize seed, only 42 per cent
stocked bean seeds, 16 per cent stocked sorghum, 10 per cent carried finger
millet, and 4 per cent offered seed for green grams and cowpeas.
authors saw these numbers as further evidence that Kenya’s farmers are
over-reliant on maize, which often performs poorly in drought relative to other
“It’s time to
reduce the dominance of maize on Kenyan farms and in Kenyan diets and to do
that, farmers need access to a much wider range of quality seeds for crops like
beans and cowpeas,” said Julius Kamau, an agrodealer at Juja Agrovet in Embu