drought tolerant seeds
AGRA to produce drought tolerant seeds

The effects of climate change in African countries have been enormous and smallholder farmers are the ones affected badly because their farming has always been subsistence.

One of the challenges farmers are facing is availability of seeds that can suit the environment in their locality.

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has partnered with private sectors to produce seeds that are drought tolerant and available close to farmers in an effort to transform agriculture in Africa.

According to Joe DeVeries, Chief of Agriculture Transformation at AGRA said secretariat smallholder farmers in Africa need totally new seed varieties that are tolerant to weather of their areas.

“We need local seed manufacturing companies that will give our farmers local seeds that are improved to suit the changing environment in Africa,” said DeVeries.

In Kenya AGRA has partnered with a private local entrepreneur Ngila Kimotho who has established a seed manufacturing company located in the highly drought  affected area Machakos County.

Dryland Seed Company has established itself as a leader in production of drought tolerant seed crop varieties.

The company also provides an after sales service with practical advice to farmers and it has developed and commercialized climate smart seeds from a capacity of five metric tons in 2007 to over 100 metric tons at the end of AGRA grant in 2012.

According to the Managing Director Ngila Kimotho the company expects to reach 1000 metric tons per year by 2017. Just like in Malawi a lot of smallholder farmers in Kenya do not believe in planting improved seeds, let alone drought tolerant seeds.

Kimotho said the uptake to the seed technology is very slow only at 20% since they launched the company in 2007. But for those farmers who have adopted the technology are inspiring others because their farms are yielding much compared to those using recycled seeds.

Allan Mackenzie a farmer in Kavumbu Masi location, Machakos County Kenya, said with the weather conditions of his area, the drought tolerant seeds have made a big improvement to his yield.

“Imagine all farmer who visited my crop farm the previous growing season have planted the improved drought tolerant seeds just because of the way my crop was, it was really inspiring to many,” said a smiling Mackenzie.

This is one initiative that the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa is advocating and working to build in Africa.

 

Among others this is one of the big stories that African leaders will be discussing this week in Nairobi Kenya at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) that starts on 5th to 9thSeptember.

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