Seeds crisis unacceptable

The rains have been good and should be made good use of by farmers to boost food and cash crop production. Food sufficiency is a worthwhile goal that the country must relentlessly pursue so that there is enough food for people to eat. It is also, of course, a source of income for the growers just like the cash crops.

It is in pursuit of food security that the government introduced its subsidised fertiliser programme. Though important, this is just one of the inputs that are required to make agriculture a success and boost rural incomes.

Why the government has allowed a seed shortage in a food-insecure country is a paradox that speaks volumes about criminal negligence. The Meteorological Department had accurately forecast that heavy rains were coming and when. Preparations should have been made to get the inputs ready, with the farms cultivated.

For its success, like any other undertaking, there is a need to plan well for the planting season. This entails not just the cultivation, but also the acquisition of seeds and fertilisers as a sure way of boosting the growth of the crops, leading to good harvests.

There is desperation in the North Rift grain basket over a seed shortage and farmers may be forced to use uncertified varieties, threatening maize production this season. Farmers in West Pokot and Trans Nzoia counties are most affected. Some have had to queue for several days to get some seeds. Delay in planting will result in poor harvests, with the people likely to be stalked by hunger.

Planning before the planting season is a must. The authorities should penalise whoever slept on the job and take urgent measures to ensure that farmers get the seeds.

There should be no excuse for courting famine as a result of poor harvests. The seed shortage could have been avoided through meticulous planning and prudent execution.