Unless Kenya reforms the way it develops and distributes crop seeds, the country faces a rapidly-rising food import bill which will be unsustainable in the long term. That was the stark message presented to experts at a high-level forum for the crop seed sector organized by the Kenya Markets Trust (KMT).
Research commissioned by KMT and its partner Agri Experience revealed Kenya’s performance in the crop seed sector is declining relative to its regional neighbours.
During the forum, Dr. Joseph Kariuki, the lead researcher presented the top 10 trends that the country cannot afford to ignore. Among the key trends he highlighted were: the rising demand for food; rising food imports; stagnant grain yields; low usage of certified maize and non-maize seed; and limited competition in the sector. All of these factors he said were adding up to dangerous deficits that were seriously undermining Kenya’s food security.
In response, discussants talked of the difficulties farmers face in accessing new, appropriate seed varieties, the need to strengthen distribution networks, the limited funding available to support new research, and the challenges in creating a competitive industry, including the need for greater private sector engagement.
Attending the meeting, held on May 27th in Nairobi, Kenya, were leading industry players drawn from the government, private sector, leading research institutions and civil society. Among them were representatives from Ministry of Agriculture, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), USAID, Agricultural Market Development Trust (AGMARK), Kenya Vision 2030, KEPSA, the National Economic and Social Council, Transformation Secretariat , Bidco Oil, Egerton University School of Agriculture, Syngenta East Africa, Phatisa, Agribusiness Management and Trade and Council of Governors.
The discussions from the roundtable will feed into the final research, and together KMT and Agri Experience will follow up with participants to explore options for how best to support industry transformation.