Seed is one of the most essential farm inputs for a farmer as it is a key determinant of productivity at the end of the farming season.

Before the USAID Feed the Future KCDMS programme moved to support seed merchants in the eastern region, farmers had difficulties in accessing certified seed, a thing that had a negative impact on food security in a region that grapples with adverse weather.

John Kimanzi, the executive director of Inyamando CBO Seed, is one of the beneficiaries of the USAID programme.

The KCDMS support has enabled the merchant to contract at least 300 farmers who multiply various drought-tolerant seeds including green grams and cowpeas in Kitui County.

“We are receiving support from USAID through KCDMS to work with the farmers. We have trained over 300 of them who are our seed growers,” said Mr Kimanzi.

The CBO has also trained farmers on good agronomic practices mainly on deep chisel tillage, which breaks the hardpan on the farm to loosen the soil, making the nutrients easily accessible while retaining moisture as it does not interfere with the soil structure.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua visits a stand where seed are being displayed. (Photo: AFA)
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua visits a stand where seed are being displayed. (Photo: AFA)

Mr Kimanzi says they have been able to produce over 10 tonnes of green grams, and over four tonnes of cowpea.

The availability of quality seed and good farming practices have enabled farmers to double their yields in the region.

“The farmers applied the skills that we taught them and they were able to grow as per the specifications, enabling them to record a plentiful harvest, producing over four bags of 90 kilogrammes of green grams compared to the previous harvest of two bags,” he said.

Mr Kimathi said the feed the future KCDMS support from USAID has occasioned good harvests that have ensured farmers have money in their pockets, hence improving their standards of living and enabling them to meet their daily needs.

As a seed merchant, he said, they have also benefited because of increased volumes from production, which has ensured that there is availability throughout the year.

Inyamando CBO Seed has been certified by Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis), which is in charge of certification and other regulatory services related to plants.

“We are grateful to USAID for the support, were it not for them, we would not have recorded good performance in our farming,” said the merchant.

Deep chisel tillage services have so far reached 120 farmers, who are able to conserve their soil through this form of ploughing and improve their productivity.

USAID has also given farmers access to a thresher, easing the exercise of threshing the seed once it has been harvested, eliminating the once tiresome process where growers would spend hours threshing the produce using their hands.

“We adopted this technology to have clean seeds that are free from soil and acid as well as reduce the labour work of threshing by hand,” he said.