Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate trains private seed inspectors ahead of planting season

Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate (KEPHIS) has started the process of training and authorising private seed inspectors who will carry out inspections of seed crops countrywide.

Speaking on Monday, KEPHIS Ag. Managing Director, Dr. Esther Kimani said that training private inspectors is part of the implementation of goals for farmers to have quality seeds to enhance food security in the country.

“What we are training you on requires very high integrity. You should practice ethical standards to promote food availability and security. Do not compromise the issue of seed, you should at all times approve only high quality seed,” said Dr. Kimani.

The seed industry has grown tremendously over the years from a single seed company before 1980 to over 120 registered seed companies currently which resulted in great volumes of seed that require to be certified by KEPHIS.

The MD pointed out that the training will therefore build capacity for participants in production, inspection and testing of quality planting material and promote accessibility of affordable seed by farmers.

Currently, she observed that the global trend is geared towards creating an enabling environment for authorisation.

Moreover, Dr. Kimani said the Government through the Agriculture Sector Development Strategy recognises the importance of accessibility and affordability of farm inputs, including seed, for sustainable agriculture development.

“The government provides for the growth in agriculture through encouraging authorisation of private entities by facilitating capacity building for stakeholders,” he noted.

She said the objective of authorisation is to complement the efforts of KEPHIS in enhancing efficiency in the seed certification process.

“Authorisation will also create an enabling environment for effective participation of both the public and private sectors in the production, inspection and testing of quality planting material and promote sustainable access of affordable seed,” said Dr Kimani.

KEPHIS General Manager, Quality Assurance, Simeon Kibet added, “Integrity is important and you must be trusted to give positive results in order to put good inputs into the market.”

Kibet said that at the end of the training, the participants are expected to be competent private/public persons who can perform specific seed certification aspects as stipulated in the Laws of Kenya.

“Applicants meeting the requirements will be selected, trained and examined by KEPHIS to confirm their skills and knowledge in the areas they will have applied,” he said.

Kibet said only those persons who pass the examination will will be considered for authorisation.

“The authorised person(s) will carry out the certification activities in their areas of authorisation when such activities arise,” he added.

He announced that KEPHIS will continue with seed certification in addition to conducting audits, monitoring and surveillance of inspected crops.

Nineteen representatives from seed companies namely Kenya Seed Company, Pioneer Hybrid, Agribase, Dryland Seed, East Africa Seed, Agricultural Development Corporation and Gicheha Farm attended the two week training at KEPHIS Headquarters that included theory and practicals.

Source: Kenya News Agency.