Fears of seed shortage as storms flatten crop


Tuesday, August 13, 2013. Kenya might suffer an acute shortage of maize seed following the destruction of more than 700 acres of the crop by storms in Trans Nzoia County.

Heavy storms accompanied by hailstones and strong winds have in the past week flattened three fields of seed crop belonging to the Kenya Seed Company at an Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) plantation.

Uncertainty now surrounds Deputy President William Ruto’s visit to the Kenya Seed Company field day as he was expected to inspect part of the crop.

Area ADC manager Samuel Bundotich said the H614 seed variety was completely destroyed.

“The total loss stands at about Sh53 million. We have never experienced such a disaster,” he said.

“Some of the crops were at the pollination stage, others were cobbing and the rest were at a very young stage,” said Mr Bundotich.

The storms also destroyed trees planted around the fields that served as windbreakers.

The ADC, a major seed grower for the country’s leading supplier, Kenya Seed, had this year planned to harvest 10 million kilogrammes from 8,000 acres.

ADC officials are now banking on the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) to advise them on how to salvage the crop not damaged by the storms.

“We are relying on Kephis to advise us on how to protect a section of the plantation that was not affected by the storm,” Mr Bundotich said.

Surviving crop

Kephis regional manager Alfred Musuya said his team would assess the situation and suggest the ways of protecting the surviving crop.

Farmers yesterday said they feared the cost of maize seed would shoot up because of expected shortage.

“We fear the price of seed will shoot up in the coming year unless the Kenya Seed Company has reserves in stock,” said Trans Nzoia Kenya National Federation of Agricultural Producers chairman William Kimosong.

By PHILIP BWAYO pbwayo@ke.nationmedia.com


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