Farmers decry distribution of sub-standard seeds

Imbaraga Farmers Organisation says that distribution of sub-standard seeds has drastically reduced farmers’ income despite huge investment they put in agriculture sector. Courtesy.

Imbaraga Farmers Organisation has said that distribution of sub-standard seeds has drastically reduced farmers’ income despite huge investment they put in agriculture sector.

Jean Paul Munyakazi, the Chairman of the organisation said that these are among the three main issues affecting farmers.

 

“The first issue is the delay of seeds distribution that are sometimes substandard. The second issue is that seeds multipliers are not close to farmers. The third is that some seeds are not locally multiplied and farmers do not get seeds on time,” he said.

 

But the most challenging issue is the distribution substandard seeds, he stressed.

 

“In our observation, we have realized that farmers are given poor quality seeds while others plant seeds and they never germinate. This issue has happened in different parts of the country and farmers have to be compensated. We are going to carry out a survey so that we can establish if seeds planted every season are substandard as well as access how much losses are incurred by farmers every agricultural season,” he said.

Under the Crop Intensification Programme, use of improved seeds has risen from 3 per cent in 2006 to 12.5 per cent in 2018 in small scale farms and 53.1 per cent for large scale farmers. Net photo.

In August this year, this paper reported that farmers who had planted soya on over 50 hectares in Huye District which failed to yield were appealing for compensation.

Last month maize farmers in Rugende marshland in Kigali city also counted losses due to the seeds that failed to yield.

Irish potato farmers and professional seed multipliers are crying foul over some individuals locally known as ‘Abamamyi’ who masquerade as multipliers and distribute fake seeds which leads to low yield.

Imbaraga organization says the issue been happening in different areas such as Gatsibo and others.

“The agencies in charge of assessing the quality of seeds should inject more efforts in testing and ensure the seeds are appropriate,” he said.

He added that besides substandard seeds given to some farmers, seeds multipliers are also still few.

“Even though it is said that in some areas there is a seed multiplier in every sector, in some instances up to three sectors share one seed multiplier. Considering that seeds multipliers are still few and not close to farmers, farmers spend extra cost on transport to reach the agro-inputs,” he said.

One Kilogramme of NPK fertilizers, if subsidized, is Rwf615, a Kilogramme of DAP is Rwf511 while UREA is Rwf410.

However, Munyakazi said that transport increases the cost spent on the agro-inputs.

“If you add transport cost, the farmers count losses and are unable to recover what they invested. This requires to increase seeds multipliers to be able to respond to farmers complaints and get appropriate seeds on time,” he explained.

To avoid relying on imported seeds Munyakazi urged Rwanda Agricultural Development Board to prepare at least one seeds multiplier in every sector so as to easily locally produce seeds close to farmers.

There are only 655 professional seed multipliers and 1,460 agro-dealer sale points. There are 15 active seed companies for 4 crops; maize, bean, wheat and soya bean crops.

“Farmers must also play role in investing in this sector,” he noted.

The findings from The African Seed Access Index by Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa released in August this year indicated that the use of improved seeds is not yet at satisfactory levels.

Satisfaction with availability of basic maize seeds is at 73 per cent, 69 per cent with bean seeds, 70 per cent with wheat and 78 per cent with soya while   satisfaction with regards to efforts to stamp out fake seeds is at 72 per cent.

Under the Crop Intensification Programme (CIP), the use of improved seeds has risen from 3 per cent in 2006 to 12.5 per cent in 2018 in small scale farms and 53.1 per cent for large scale farmers.

Jean Claude Izamuhaye, Head of Department, Crop Research and Technology Transfer at RAB said that the issue of delaying distribution of seeds to farmers exists but he said that starting with the current agricultural season 2020A, the intensity of the issue going down.

“The agro-inputs started to reach farmers since August. But there were delay in seeds distribution which affected farmers who had to start planting in July. The measures is that we have to streamline the procurement process in case we might still need to import,” he said.

He added that there will be production of seeds locally by multipliers who in turn sell the seeds to farmers close to them to avoid further delay.

“Locally producing seeds will avoid further delay of seeds distribution and reduce the cost on imports,” he said.

Concerning the issue of substandard seeds, Izamuhaye explained that there are a few cases.

“It can happen. But we urge farmers to check and return the seeds to us if the issue happens. It will also help to hold accountable the producers, distributors and importers and maybe compensate farmers. There are farmer promoters who can help them report the cases,” he said.

He added that some seeds fail to yield as it happened in Rugende marshland.

“The recent case in Rugende marshland was caused by maize seeds multiplier who distributed inappropriate seeds. The farmers have contract with the seeds multiplier and we are linking them so that they get compensated if we found out that the seeds were fake,” he said.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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