Fake seeds force Ugandan farmers to resort to ‘bronze age’ agriculture
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Of the many factors that keep small-scale Ugandan farmers poor, seed counterfeiting may be the least understood. Passing under the radar of the international development sector, a whole illegal industry has developed in Uganda, cheating farmers by selling them seeds that promise high yields but fail to germinate at all – with results that can be disastrous.
Counterfeiting gangs have learned to dye regular maize with the characteristic pinkish orange colour of industrially processed maize seed, duping farmers into paying good money for seed that just won’t grow. The result is a crisis of confidence in commercially available high-yield seed.
According to a paper published by World Bank researcher James Joughin, just 13% of farmers buy improved seed from formal markets in Uganda. The rest rely on seeds saved from the previous season or traded informally between neighbours, but such seeds generally produce far lower yields than genuine high yield hybrids.