By Gabriella Nashiva

The rains are upon us which for many farmers, it’s planting season. With this in mind, seed selection is vital and farmers need to get seeds that will give good yield and bumper harvest.

In Kenya, the task of making sure that seeds sold on the market are properly inspected and examined falls under Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS).

According to WM Munyao of KEPHIS, important attributes of seeds cannot properly or conclusively be assessed visually or instantly upon purchase, hence the need for institutions like KEPHIS to come in and do the necessary quality assurance measures to ease the minds of consumers.

A lot goes in to the process of certification process. Many factors are considered by the researchers and specialists to produce the best outcome.

The constitution under the Seed and Plant varieties act (Chapter 326) assures farmers that only the highest quality of crop seeds are available to farmers at all times.

KEPHIS follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure seed merchants fulfill the necessary requirements before the seeds reach the market, and also conduct a follow up survey to determine the seeds’ success upon harvesting so as to have conclusive data on the product.

Benefits for using certified seeds include being assured of the purity of the seed. Seeds are tested for their purity and their germination is assured for the specified conditions which farmers intend to plant.

Information to back up the quality of certified seeds is usually readily available which gives farmers a sense of what to expect and also the best way of planting, the best soil, fertilizer and weather requirements for the best yield.

Farmers enjoy guaranteed quality assurance meaning they can be sure that they are going to get the intended harvest from the seeds.

Monetarily as well farmers get to enjoy bumper harvests and increased profits from using seeds that have been certified.

Knowing that a specific harvest was as a result of a particular seed variety which had been tested and certified, make farmers confident about reusing seeds from their harvest, knowing they come from a proven source.

Seed certification is an important aspect that farmers should consider when looking for seeds to plant and the advantages are worth the trouble.

To verify the authenticity of seeds bought from merchants, KEPHIS has come up with an SMS based verification process where farmers scratch to get a code from the seeds’ packets and send it to 1393 to confirm validity.