Saturday, October 24, 2009

Experts bemoan influx of illegal seed dealers

Experts bemoan influx of illegal seed dealers
By Lawrence Kabutu
Sat 24 Oct. 2009, 04:00 CAT

MAIZE Research Institute (MRI) has expressed sadness with the influx of illegal seed dealers on the market in Southern Province.

MRI Mazabuka distributor Gilbert Vlahakis disclosed that 18 cases of fake seed dealers in the province had so far been unearthed and stated that two to three metric tonnes of fake seed was confiscated.

He was speaking during a sensitisation meeting for this season's farmer input support programme (FISP) in Choma attended by senior agricultural officers and district agriculture committee chairpersons in the province.

Vlahakis noted that Southern Province had been highly targeted by briefcase seed dealers as it was the largest consumer of maize seed.

He also attributed the increase in fake seed dealers in the province to the high number of farmers planting hybrid seed.

Vlahakis stated that 60 per cent of farmers in Southern Province were using hybrid seed hence the decision by unscrupulous seed dealers to target the small-scale farmers in the province to swindle them out of their money.

He cited the incident in Chikanta area where farmers were swindled of their money with 83 bags of fake seed purported to have been supplied by MRI.

Vlahakis pointed out that the problem of illegal supply of seed by unscrupulous seed dealers would soon reach alarming levels if left unchecked.

He urged senior agricultural officers in the province to work in collaboration with seed companies and the Seed Control and Certification Institute to arrest the situation.

Vlahakis explained that fake seed dealers had become sophisticated as they were using bags, labels and chemicals for seed companies when marketing their fake seed.

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