3. Uganda: Farmers should beware of fake seeds (New Vision, Farm Radio Weekly)

| March 30, 2009

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Farmers who purchase cheap maize seeds may get much less than they bargained for. According to an international development agency, there has been an increase in the number of fake hybrid seeds sold in Uganda.

Jaap Blom is team leader for the Agribusiness Development Component – a component of the Danish agricultural support program in Uganda. He says that dealers selling fake seeds dominate the market because their products are cheap. But fake seeds may not germinate properly or they may produce weak plants with low yields.

Ruth Ssebuliba is executive secretary for the Uganda Seed Trade Association, an organization representing seed companies and related businesses. She explains that seed faking tends to increase whenever the demand for seed goes uprises. In Uganda, demand for hybrid seeds is growing as more farmers are realize becoming aware of their value of hybrids. Resettlement of displaced persons in nNorthern Uganda has also driven demand.

It is difficult for a farmer to tell if a seed is fake or genuine just by looking at it. Ms. Ssebuliba provides some tips for farmers to avoid fake seeds. Farmers should only buy seeds from licensed dealers. They should be familiar with the appearance of packaging have a good knowledge of what packaging looks like for genuine seeds. Before purchasing seeds, farmers should ensure that they does not contain inert materials like stones, that they have not been damaged by pests, and they do not contain seeds that are visibly different. Farmers should obtain a receipt, and retain the receipt and label so that a complaint can be made in case of a problem.

Of course, not all farmers purchase seeds. Traditionally, farmers save some seed from each harvest to plant in later growing seasons. Some communities create seed banks to protect a supply of locally-adapted seeds. The following two scripts explain what a seed bank is and how canto start one be started:
Does your community need a seed bank? (Package 56, Script 5, July 2000)
Starting a community seed bank (Package 56, Script 6, July 2000)