Be careful when buying maize seed this season

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For optimum crop production, selection of the right inputs is very important. One of the most important inputs for the farmer this season is maize seeds. A good knowledge of the right seeds for the various climatic regions enables farmers attain a good yield and income.

Due to the high demand for maize seeds, farmers fall prey to people who offer cheap seeds, claiming they are genuinely obtained from seed companies. Others buy seeds from any stockist without verifying the source and even quality of the seeds.

Check for seed license

Farmers should know that there is fake seed in the market. The best way to establish if the seed is genuine is to check if the shop is licensed to sell maize seeds by the Kenya Plant Health Inspection Service (KEPHIS). Farmers should also look for the inspection service tags that are put in every seed package. The sale of fake seeds causes huge losses to farmers who record reduced yields and income. Efforts to curb the vice by the KEPHIS and law enforcement agencies have not been entirely successful because it is practiced by a network of prominent traders who collude with some seed company employees.

Seed producers also cheat

Farmers contracted by seed companies to produce maize seed have also been involved in sale of uncertified maize seed. KEPHIS inspectors may condemn the maize if it does not meet the quality standards, and thereafter advise the farmer to sell it as commercial maize. But some unscrupulous seed producers end up selling the maize to middlemen who then sell it to unsuspecting farmers, claiming it is genuine seed obtained from seed producers. To sweeten the deal, the seed merchants offer it at a cheaper price compared to that of genuine seed. The seed, also called “dubai” seed does well when planted. Farmers who fall prey to such tricksters end up with a poor harvest.

Commercial maize is not seed

Some farmers have opted to use commercial maize as seed. Such maize cannot produce the desired yield. This is responsible for the low yields that farmers get when they plant it. Farmers should know that hybrid maize seed is produced in a special way that enables it to produce more when it is planted. After it is harvested, it cannot be replanted as seed because it does not have the characteristics of maize seed.

Ordinary maize that is replanted as seed also has a tendency of transferring diseases and pests such as leaf inflammation, stalk and the Larger Grain Borer. Unless farmers take other measures to identify genuine seed (See guidelines below), it is very difficult for them to distinguish genuine seed from fake seed because in most cases, the fake seed is treated with the same chemicals and packaging material as genuine seed.

How to identify the right seed during purchase

Before buying any seed, the farmer should consider the following guidelines in order to minimize incidences of purchasing fake seed and to increase their maize yields:

  • Buy your seeds only from licensed seed stockists or shops. Before buying the seed, it is important to ask to see the license issued to the stockist that authorizes them to sell seed. Alternatively, ensure you buy seeds from reputable and well-known agrovet shops in your nearest town.
  • All genuine seeds have company tags and inspection labels from KEPHIS in inside the seed bags. It is always important to check for the tag immediately you open the seed bag to ensure the seed is genuine.
  • Buy your seed early enough. Farmers are more likely to buy fake during the rush for seeds in March and April when most of the popular varieties of seeds are in short supply.
  • Always ensure the seed you are buying are not expired.
  • Some stockists who buy large quantities may continue selling carry-over stocks remaining from previous years; such seeds cannot grow well when planted and may fail to germinate.
  • All seed should be well stored preferably in a cool and dry place.

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