The government through the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) has intensified its crackdown on shops selling fake seeds to farmers ahead of the planting season.
A multi-agency team, compromising KEPHIS officers, the police and officials from the Kericho County Government raided several markets in the county on Friday and flashed out unscrupulous traders processing and selling uncertified maize seeds.
While conducting the crackdown, KEPHIS officials arrested some traders accused of using red oxide to colour the seeds to hoodwink unsuspecting buyers.
“In one of the shops, we found that the seller had opened the seeds, once the seeds are opened there is no assurance of the quality because they could be selling anything,” a KEPHIS official stated.
Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS) officials addressing the press after arresting six dealers selling fake seeds in Bomet on December 21, 2023
Meanwhile, others were arrested for selling seeds that were improperly packaged while some products lacked KEPHIS stickers.
“We don’t just watch for the sticker, there is a scratch panel on the package,” the official disclosed.
“The team was able to inspect 25 Agrovet shops, and out of those, 22 complied but out of the three, one there was an Agrovet where the seller had opened the seeds,” the KEPHIS official added
Officials stated that the seed dealers use a very treacherous method of slightly lowering the prices of the farm products to attract unsuspecting farmers.
According to the Seed and Plant Varieties Act, Cap. 326 of 2012, anyone found guilty of selling fake seeds is liable to a fine of up to Ksh1 million and a jail term of up to two years.
In December 2023, KEPHIS Managing Director Theophilus Mutui disclosed that his organisation received complaints from farmers over the sale of fake seeds by dealers.
“We have had instances of fake seeds sold in some countries, especially in grain basket regions by unscrupulous traders thus affecting food production.
“In the recent past we managed to arrest the situation in one of the counties in the Rift region,” Mutui stated.
A photo of a maize farm in Uyoma, Siaya County taken on March 4, 2023.