When farmers in Bugesera District invested in watermelon growing along Lake Rweru in September last year, they were hoping to reap big. In contrast, however, they are now counting losses after planting what have turned out to be fake seeds supplied by a Kenyan firm — Kenya Seed Rwanda Ltd. The subsidiary of Simlaw Seeds Company supplied a seed variety known as Watermelon Julie F1. Safari Kanzeguhera, a farmer from Kintambwe cell in Rweru sector invested Rwf1.7 million hoping to generate Rwf2 million in profits in a space of three months. Normally, watermelon is harvested after 90 days. But to the farmers’ surprise in Bugesera, even 80 days after planting, the seeds had not flowered. “We bought the seeds from agro-dealers who also buy them from importers,” he said. Like many other farmers, Kanzeguhera leased the land and irrigation equipment, paid for workers, fertilizers, agro-chemicals and other farm inputs as part of his investment in the business. “We need compensation so that we get capital for the next planting season,” he said. The farmers told The New Times that they haven’t received feedback from Kenya Seed Rwanda Ltd and Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB). “I invested Rwf1.5 million on one hectare but I didn’t harvest anything. The seeds were fake,” said Jacques Mbarubukeye, another farmer. Jean Uwihoreye, another farmer, said he invested Rwf2.4 million, which he lost completely. “It was my first time to invest in watermelon but I registered a loss,” he said. What RAB says Charles Bucagu, the Deputy Director-General of Agriculture Research and Technology Transfer at RAB told The New Times that they are set to meet the seed distribution firm. “We deployed a team from RAB and Bugesera district to assess the issue. I am waiting for the detailed report but we are set to meet the company that supplied the seeds to discuss how farmers can be supported,” he said. Kenya Seed Rwanda Ltd has branches in different parts of the country, meaning similar varieties of seeds might have been supplied to other districts. “We have to make sure that the same seeds variety that failed to yield remains in stores so that they are not supplied elsewhere. We realized the seed won’t provide any yields,” he said. He stressed that in such a case, the supplying company should compensate farmers, disclosing that RAB is also ready to support the farmers. “The issue is already reported in two sectors of Bugesera district namely Rweru and Gashora but we are assessing other districts. The farmers should be compensated and also get seeds for the next planting season,” he said. Speaking to This paper, Monique Nyirahagenimana who works with Kenya Seed Rwanda Ltd said they have a plan to meet farmers. “We will meet farmers soon. We’ll compare with other districts where similar varieties were supplied to assess the situation. If the seeds were fake, farmers have to be compensated,” she said. This is not the first time farmers are complaining about fake seeds. Recent examples include farmers who had planted soya on over 50 hectares in Huye District, which failed to yield. In 2017 some 100 farmers in Rusizi District incurred losses due to substandard seeds.