How to spot counterfeit Seed in Kenya
This article was first published in the Saturday Nation on April 17, 2021
What is counterfeit seed and what are its effects to Kenyan farmers?
Counterfeit seed is one that has not gone through the certification process by KEPHIS. The process ensures that seed has met quality standards after undergoing field inspections and laboratory tests. Planting counterfeit seeds can lead to the following:
- Poor or lack of germination. Uncertified seed have not undergone germination tests by KEPHIS to assure it is of good germination.What is counterfeit seed and what are its effects to Kenyan farmers? Counterfeit seed is one that has not gone through the certification process by KEPHIS. The process ensures that seed has met quality standards after undergoing field inspections and laboratory tests. Planting counterfeit seeds can lead to the following:
- Reduced yield. Generally, uncertified seed is not high yielding and have more insect and disease problems.
- Loss of investment to farmers when they lose the crop due to poor performance.
- Difficult to track the source of seed, especially if it was not bought from the agro dealer shop.
How can a farmer identify counterfeit seeds?
During the purchase of a seed packet from the agro dealer shop (2kg and below), a farmer should look for a seed sticker label on the packet, which upon scratching, will reveal a 14-digit number.
The farmer should send this to 1393 at no cost. This can be done through both
android enabled and basic phone.
If a seed is certified, the farmer will receive the following feedback:
> VARIETY NAME:
> LOT NUMBER:
> TESTING DATE:
If counterfeit, the farmer will receive the following feedback:
“Digit xxxxxxxxxxxxxx IS NOT A VALID CODE. Check and send correct code.
The seed may not be genuine. Call 0709891000.”
What can a farmer do after they realise they have bought counterfeit seed?
If a farmer gets the invalid code feedback, they should not pay for the seed. They should hand it back to the seller (for return to the seed company) and report the matter by calling the number 0709891000.
If a farmer suspects counterfeit seed, they can report the matter to the nearest KEPHIS office, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, or the nearest police station.
What is the difference between testing date and validity date?
Testing date refers to when the seed is released or ready for germination, while validity date is the period the seed lot takes before it is due for testing.
How can a farmer avoid buying counterfeit seed?
- Buying seed from agro dealers registered with KEPHIS and whose operating license is up to date.
- Buying seed from companies that are registered with KEPHIS.
- Avoiding seed from open markets and recycled ones from fellow farmers.
- Keeping receipts after buying seed should it be required as evidence when you suspect it is counterfeit.
- Scratching all seed packets bought from the agro dealer upon purchase rather than later, since mere scratch does not affect validity date.
STAK encourages farmers to pay due diligence during the purchase of seed to ensure they don’t fall prey to unscrupulous persons involved in trading counterfeits