Maize farmers in Monduli District, Arusha Region have decried the increasing wave of fake maize seeds in the market outlets, appealing to the government to take immediate action to address the vice.
Polycarp Shayo, a Monduli-based famer, told reporters here at the weekend that fake seeds are on rampant in the market and it seems the government is not taking action against those involved in the dubious business.
He said the situation right now is not encouraging and confuses the farmers, who are unable to identify genuine from fake seeds.
Shayo went further to reveal that fear that has gripped hundreds of farmers who had already bought seeds from different seed sellers in the district; hence many of them are worried that they might get poor yields this season due to the fake seeds they acquired.
“We want the government to firmly work on this problem, which is luring a large number of farmers into loss,” he said, when showing to journalists his four-acre maize farm in the district.
Shayo’s farm is one of the few maize farms spared for demonstration, whereby an Arusha-based seed processing firm—Seedco Tanzania Limited, provided with improved seeds and other related farm inputs.
The farm is also used as a training centre for other farmers to learn different modern farming skills and knowledge and among the key issues include importance of using improved maize seeds.
Shayo is very optimistic that this year is going to harvest more than 100bags of maize in his field, because he properly used genuine seeds and applied fertilisers.
Another farmer in the district, William Shilalo, who owns 10 acres of maize farm in the area, urged seeds’ processing firms to come up with special marks that will make farmers be able to identify genuine from fake seeds.
“I have ten acres of land, but I’m not expecting to harvest much because some of the seeds I used were not genuine,” he said.
He added: “Many farmers are not aware of the problem; hence they ended-up buying adulterated seeds from unscrupulous seeds’ dealers.”
In his response to the question of fake seeds in the market, Seedco Tanzania Limited managing director Dave Clements said: “As seed processors, we’re fully aware of this problem and we’re trying to tell our farmers that they should always buy seeds from reputable seed sellers.”
Clements urged them to make informed decisions when it comes to purchasing seeds.
He also said the problem needs collective efforts amongst stakeholders, including the farmers themselves, agro-dealers on the one hand and the government on the other.
“People who are behind this business are only interested to get money rather than putting farmers as the priority,” he observed.
Seedco marketing manager Arnold Mselle, called on the farmers to ensure that they get better knowledge on seeds before embarking into farming.
He also called upon them to plant maize in line with a good amount of rainfall in a given locality.
“We have different varieties of seeds, in every climatic condition. For example, in areas where there are short rains, we have its variety, the same applies to areas with long rains,” he said.
Monduli District Agricultural and Livestock Development Officer Ridhiwani Kombo also urged farmers to be careful when buying seeds, saying the market is flooded with fake seeds.
He however revealed that the district is planning to divide the area into four agricultural zones, according to the amount of rainfall.
Kombo said the decision to do so was reached after realising that not all areas are suitable for maize farming because of the amount of rainfall.
He said in some areas farmers will be forced to grow drought resistant crops like sorghum.