RECYCLING OF PLANTING SEEDS

Poor seeds affecting food production, experts say

Up to 31 per cent of farmers have been recycling seeds for over a decade.

In Summary

• Director general  Eliud Kireger said the recycled seeds yield less than the newer hybrid seeds which the organisation has produced.

• Research done by Karlo indicated that only 47 per cent of farmers were using the recommended seeds while fertiliser was being applied at 40 per cent of the accepted rates.

Maize breeders and researchers from KARLO observe the new maize hybrid that has been released in the market.
Maize breeders and researchers from KARLO observe the new maize hybrid that has been released in the market.
Image: GEORGE MURAGE

Experts have said that food production in the country is declining due to recycling of planting seeds.

Up to 31 per cent of farmers have been recycling seeds for over a decade and this has resulted to a drop in food production according to Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO).

Director general  Eliud Kireger said the recycled seeds yield less than the newer hybrid seeds which the organisation has produced.

He said  farmers should test different seed varieties then select the plant types and grain qualities that best suit their needs.

“Varieties include more drought tolerant maize lines, legume and fodder varieties grown using conservation agriculture practices which have since been recommended for seed scale up and commercial production,” he said.

Research done by Karlo indicated that only 47 per cent of farmers were using the recommended seeds while fertiliser was being applied at 40 per cent of the accepted rates.

Kireger was speaking at the end of sustainable intensification of maize cropping systems for food security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA) at KARLO conference centre in Naivasha.

Continued mono-cropping of maize and little use of fertilisers or manure has dramatically reduced the fertility of Africa’s fragile soils.

“Fragile soils lead to fragile livelihoods, making farmers even more vulnerable to climate shocks,” he said adding that farmers are accustomed to removing crop residues from their fields in order to feed their livestock further aggravating erosion and soil fertility problems.

 To solve the problem, Kireger said they encouraged adoption of a set of practices to build soil health including leaving either all or some crop residues on the field, reducing tillage and adding legume crops that fix nitrogen.

“By taking these steps to reduce erosion there will be significant improvements in crop yields and the soil will have ability to retain moisture,” he noted.

His sentiments were echoed by director from Ministry of Agriculture  Margaret Makelo who said government was investing on food security and nutrition in line with the Big Four Agenda.

Makelo said there was need for collaboration among the national government, county governments and stakeholders within the various agricultural products value chains.

“We will continue to provide an enabling environment for stakeholders along the value chain to generate technology and innovations that improve agricultural productivity,” she said.