Seed Drive Will Help Crop Farmers in Kenya

To increase yields and boost food security, crop farmers in Kenya will access high quality seed varieties at affordable prices. The entity to champion the project — QualiBasic Seed — will ensure strains of seeds developed by breeders are correct in genetic quality at all stages.

Under the aegis of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), the private entity will be housed in Nairobi that is nurturing it. Already, from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the company has received an initial five-year funding of US$ 8.4 million. The initiative will save small and medium seed companies that struggle to proliferate foundation seeds from breeders without proper equipment to sustain quality.

To reproduce foundation seeds for themselves without compromising on quality enjoy undue advantage over small and medium ones, established multi-national seed companies through their inbuilt capacity, said Mr Donald Mavindidze, AATF’s Director of Commercialisation.

Mavindidze says, “QualiBasic Company will create a level playing ground for all players in the seed production industry and protect farmers from compromised seeds when things go wrong in production, impacting negatively on yields, farmers profit margins and the general food security.”

He explained that, foundation or basic seeds of any crop are obtained after rigorous research by breeders to come up with new varieties of improved strains. The improved varieties are the result of crossing strains with useful qualities. These qualities are such as drought resistance, early maturity, water efficiency, pest resistance and the like to come up with a more versatile product.

QualiBasic Company will ensure basic seeds from breeders go through the pre-foundation and foundation stage with their quality sealed at 100 per cent when they get to seed companies for mass production, Mr Mavindidze said.

He says, because of the gap in seed production that QualiBasic Seed Company will fill, lots of products from breeders have been sitting without reaching the farmers.

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