18th March 2023
Growing your own food can mean survival for some people. In Africa many people are what one might call indigenous farmers, people who grow traditional crops using traditional methods. The plants they grow are often well suited to the local soils and the local vagaries of the climate. It is a type of farming that has little in the ways of cost inputs – no artificial fertilisers, no highly mechanised equipment, not even expensive seed. Rather seeds are collected from one season to use at the next or to swop with neighbours to improve fertility. In Kenya 80 – 90% of farmers use and share indigenous home grown seeds.
However the Kenyan government wishes to control the quality of seeds by prohibiting the sale of exchanging of any seeds other than those that have been licensed Licensing is expensive – only 20% of the seeds regularly used have been licensed – and this has limited the number of legal seeds sellers to a few large concerns. Often these seeds suppliers are also in the market of selling fertilisers and pesticides, and may opt to sell seeds that need such additional inputs.
It is now illegal to sell or swop unlicensed seeds in Kenya with the potential punishment of 2 years in jail and or a fine.
Greenpeace Africa is challenging this law.
For more information see https://www.greenpeace.org/africa/en/publications/51807/whose-interest-does-the-kenyan-seeds-law-protect/