Last week we were happy to be graced with an opportunity to spend a day of learning at the Leldet farms; which grows hybrid seeds for farmers. This initiative was championed by Kenya Markets Trust in a partnership with Agri-experience with a goal of not only linking business, but also to create a learning and appreciation experience between these two market players. The session recognized the challenges that faces a seed company like Leldet in a day to day basis and the hustle agro dealers put to push out quality seeds to small holder farmers and still be in a position to advise them on usage, answer questions and retain their clients trust. Here is a photo story attached from the trip based exclusively on LELDET, what they do and how they work.
The company is based in Nakuru County and privately owned by the Leakey Family with Janey Leakey as the founding director. Leldet was formed after a realization that smallholder farmers who were practicing farming in the ASAL regions had been largely ignored by other seeds companies hence no quality seeds made for them that can be able to weather the tough climatic conditions for their regions. She had been a victim far too many times and this became her motivation to start a seeds company that produces improved varieties of underutilized seeds
The Leakey farm on about 700hactare out of the 1400.They try to refrain from credits so everything is operated on a cash basis. The farm is basically equipped with different farm machines that help working in the farm easier. They facilitate the planting to the final packaging and distribution of the seeds internally.
The company specializes on ‘underutilized crops’ made to do very well in ASAL areas and expand options of seeds to farmers. Last year they earned trust from farmers when the maize necrosis wiped out other maize variety in Bomet County where it was first discovered. Farmers who used the Leldet maize seeds variety remained healthy and the yields were good. The seeds include maize, beans, pigeon pea, sorghum, soya beans, chickpea greengrams and groundnuts. The company strives to stay top of the game by working with various research institutes to continue supplying quality seeds.
To ensure accessibility and affordability of the seeds, Leldet is the first to commercially pack “small packs” of seeds that are pocket friendly to the farmers. She has her dedicated marketing team that distributes seeds to the major agro dealer outlets. They even attend agricultural shows and open farmers day to get opportunities to talk to farmers. The small packs go for as little as 10 shillings for a 80 gram pack. This pricing strategy enables them to reach over 5000 farmers every season.
Janey has managed to beat the high registration and approval fees to register the first private seeds company in Kenya. Running a seeds company is very expensive and time consuming. “It takes me three years before I can harvest my maize.” says Janey who manages to run her farm with such a flair of patience and dedication. Her seeds are shelled by hands to minimize seeds damages and her farm is regularly inspected to minimize crop disease. The larger and not broken Seeds are hand -picked packing. That is the quality found in every pack supplied by this Seed company.