FARMERS' RIGHTS

Lobby asks state to amend punitive seed laws

Seed and Plant Varieties Act, 2012 prohibits farmers from sharing or selling uncertified and unregistered seeds

In Summary
  • Greenpeace project lead said the legislation punishes offenders with a prison sentence of up to a maximum of two years or a fine of up to Sh1,000,000 or both.
  • She said small-scale farmers have filed public interest litigation at Machakos law courts.
Small-scale farmers address the media. They urge the government to amend seed law.
SEED LAW: Small-scale farmers address the media. They urge the government to amend seed law.
Image: AMOS NJAU

Greenpeace Africa in partnership with small-scale farmers has petitioned the national government to amend or abolish the Seed and Plant Varieties Act 326 of 2012.

Speaking during a press briefing, the organisation said the law should be amended to recognise and allow the sale, exchange and sharing of indigenous seeds in Kenya.

The Seed and Plant Varieties Act (2012) prohibits farmers from sharing, exchanging, or selling uncertified and unregistered seeds.

According to Greenpeace project lead Claire Nasike, the legislation punishes offenders with a prison sentence of up to two years or a fine of up to Sh1,000,000 or both.

She said small-scale farmers have filed public interest litigation at Machakos law courts, adding that the law has been discouraging to the farmers and can lead to food shortages.

“Kenya’s government should amend these punitive seed laws and allow the sale, exchange and sharing of indigenous seeds," she said.

Francis Ngiri, a farmer, faulted the law, terming it as a tactic to control Kenya’s food system and rid the local farmers of their livelihoods.

He requested the government to ensure the rights of farmers are protected and eliminate laws taking advantage of local farming communities.

He said the 2010 Constitution recognises the existence of both indigenous seeds and knowledge about those seeds.

Ngiri also said the law was solely informed to benefit the multinational companies who reap billions from the sector.

“Small-scale farmers won’t relent until the government amends these neo-colonial laws that give free leeway for big multinationals and profit-driven entities," he said.

Rose Muganda from Ubunifu Hub and team coordinator said criminalising seed exchange and sharing would deny farmers their livelihoods, encourage biopiracy and reduce plant genetic diversity.

She said limiting the rights of farmers to share, exchange and sell seeds in the informal seed sector would reduce diverse seed access, further aggravating food and nutritional insecurity in the country as witnessed in the recent past.

 

(edited by Amol Awuor)

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