A functioning seed system is critical to food security and nutrition in Africa!
Although many countries have a formal seed system, smallholder farmers in rural areas often rely on informal seed systems and use traditional knowledge and methods to practice agriculture.
The role of informal seed systems in promoting food production and sustaining livelihoods in rural smallholder agricultural households cannot be ignored. That is why the recently enacted Seeds and Plant Varieties Act of 2012, Part 2(8) on restrictions on sales of seeds of unindexed plant varieties in Kenya is a cause for serious concern and dialogue.
Of course, unregulated seed trade can result in poor seed quality and assessment, limiting proper seed production and affecting crop yield. But the answer cannot be to criminalize the selling or sharing of indigenous seeds.
African countries, Kenya included, need to recognize the informal seed system as one of the contributors to food security and engage smallholder farmers in co-creating solutions that support informal seed systems in improving smallholder farmers’ access to quality seed.
Bottom line: Only by being inclusive in every relevant sector can we realign the agri-food system for people, prosperity, and the planet, leaving no one behind.