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September 26, 2011

Kenya Seed Company to increase output

by Allan Odhiambo

The Kenya Seed Company plans to lease land to increase its output to match a sharp rise in demand for certified maize seeds both locally and in the region.

Managing director Willy Bett said the parcels offered for lease should be in Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu, measure at least 100 acres, be within a seed production block and be detached by 200 metres from commercial fields.

The company invited individual landowners, companies or co-operative societies with proof of ownership to take the opportunity on a renewable one-year contract. They only need to show prove of ownership.

Most farmers in the Rift Valley maize growing areas had to endure high prices for the limited available stocks of certified seed while others opted for ordinary low-yielding material for planting.

Demand for certified seeds in East and Central Africa is high owing to ongoing reforms to boost food production. However, most countries in the region now depend on Kenya after the previous main supplier, Zimbabwe cut its output against the backdrop of an economic crisis.

The shortage of seed in April was also blamed on the drought that hit the country in the 2008 and 2009 and adversely affected the seed production.

The Kenya Seed Company has recently increased the number of farmers contracted to grow maize seeds at the Bura and Hola irrigation schemes, where total land stands at 9,000 acres. Other farmers under contract are in Baringo, Taita Taveta, Ahero, Trans Nzoia and Wei Wei.

The Ministry of Agriculture said last week it expects a marginal surplus of about 2.2 million 90kg bags of maize by the end of this year supported by enhanced harvests from the long and short rainy seasons and a steady flow of duty-free imports. It projected that the country would harvest 6.8 million bags of maize from the ended long rainy season between March and May and boost supplies.

Business Daily Africa

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