Kenya Markets Trust together with Agri Experience, are supporting development of a farmer-centred crop seeds distribution system. We do this by:
- Empowering agrodealers to become more active and knowledgeable partners in crop seed distribution to increase farmers’ yields.
- Enhancing agrodealer linkages with seed companies, each other, and other market actors
- Encouraging agrodealers to plant customer-focused, climate smart crop seed demoes using new varieties
- Facilitating and strengthen sustainable advocacy platforms for agrodealers
- Developing mechanisms for farmers, through partners, to voice complaints about seed quality, paying particular attention to women farmers and their needs
In encouraging agro-dealers to plant climate smart demonstration plots using new high quality seed varieties, we focus on increasing uptake of quality seeds with improved genetics, properly positioned according to farmers’ climatic conditions in order to optimize yield and adapt to the changing climate.
Agrodealers are a vital link between seed companies and farmers, and having them lead the activity positions them appropriately to showcase new climate smart varieties that will benefit their customers. In addition, the initiative seeks to impart good agronomic practices to farmers.
A total of seventeen demo plots have been planted thus far, four in Kakamega County (Butere, Khwisero and Mumias sub-counties), five in Busia (Teso North, Teso South, Port Victoria and Bunyala), and eight in Kilifi County.
Partnerships have been established with agrodealers who, during the 2016 Mazao Forums, expressed willingness to establish demo plots within the areas they service. With technical assistance from our Crop Seeds Team and the support of seed companies in providing sample seeds, agrodealers have been able to establish the demonstration plots.
There are a number of good climate smart seed varieties in the market that farmers don’t plant because of lack of awareness. Eight seed companies produce a number of drought tolerant varieties, which would be of great value to farmers in rain stressed areas.
A key consideration in setting up demo plots was climate change consciousness, as adverse climatic events substantially contribute to reduced crop yield. The demo plots were established with appropriate seeds,according to climatic conditions of the regions and the ecological requirements of the crops. Good timing of the planting season, appropriate use of fertilizers, diversification of crops and varieties were all taken into account.
From observations of the demos and participation in field days, it is anticipated that farmers will adopt varieties that are proven to work for their agro ecological zones. This will enable them maximize yield through the adoption of certified seeds and better agronomic practices. Likewise, agrodealers, in responding to their customers’ demand for better varieties, will develop better relationships with the seed companies.
The reception of the activity from different quarters has been extremely positive. Seed companies have overwhelmingly welcomed the activity and seven of them contributed seeds of various varieties to be planted in the demo plots.
Government extension officers have also shown the willingness to partner with agro dealers and farmers in the demo programme. In Busia, for example, an extension officer has been assisting in the management of the demo plots, providing advice and mobilizing farmers for upcoming field days. She has also been a key link between the agrodealers and the sub-county agricultural office.