• Agriculture sector/food security is one of the hardest hit by drought.
• More than 30 counties affected by the drought.
Farmers want the government to legalise ‘farmer-managed seed-systems’ as one way of addressing food insecurity.
As the drought worsens, on Thursday they questioned the reliance on certified seeds, saying farmer-managed seeds would not be damaged by harsh weather conditions.
This emerged during a seed fair in Gilgil where farmers from around the country showcased and exchanged their seeds, some of which are facing extinction.
During the event, Seed Savers Network launched an app where more than 60,000 farmers across the country will be able to source any form of seeds from each other.
Network programme officer Mary Wambui said the seed exchange programme was critical in addressing the country’s food security.
Wambui said the project involved training farmers in organic farming, which meant the farm produce was healthy and free from any chemicals.
She termed the ongoing drought as a major threat to seed production in the country because of reliance on certified seeds from agro-vets.
The agriculture expert called for a review of the country’s laws on certified seeds, saying the farming sector should be allowed to adopt farmers-managed seeds systems.
“There are some seeds like sweet potatoes, cassava and arrow roots which cannot be found in agrovets and we have to source them from farmers,” she said.
Wambui said the seed bank initiative, which had been adopted by farmers, was useful during drought when some members did not have cash to buy seeds.
Seed ambassador and farmer James Kariba said the seed-exchange programme had assisted many of the farmers during tough times.
Kariba said the seed-bank offered all types of seeds, including some that were drought-resistant and were not in stock in the agrovets.
“The drought has adversely affected seed production in the last three years but the seed banks will help during the planting season,” he said.
Another beneficiary of the programme, Beatrice Wangui, said organic farming and the use of little water in their farming had changed their way of life, while others suffered.
“Under this programme, we learnt about preserving even our fresh produce during bumper harvest and as the drought bites,"she said.
"We are now using the products preserved then.”
(Edited by V. Graham)