REPORTS have been received of some unscrupulous traders selling fake seed and farmers are being warned that they risk losing their money and their livelihood,by buying imitation seed. <
Seed Co marketing manager Brien de Woronin said Police had been informed of the bogus seed traders and the industry was embarking on an exercise to advise farmers on how to check on the genuineness of seed.
“Farmers should be wary of imitations. A bag of seed should have a visible reputable company design, with a product description; a weight declaration; and either have a machine printed label on a 25-kilogram unit, or machine printed number directly on the plastic bag,” said De Woronin.
“Bags larger than 25 kilogram units should not be hand sewn, but sewn by a machine that is evenly stitched. Plastic bags should be heat sealed, not stitched. Protective seed dressing, usually green for hybrid maize, is an insecticide that should not rub off the seed easily.”
He said farmers are strongly advised not to purchase seed from an open bag.
“Authentic hybrid maize seed is always in a sealed bag, since this is a legal certification requirement, and part of the guarantees and process of certifying seed,” he said.
Farmers buying bogus seed face certain risks of crops not performing to expectation. Such seed has no germination assurance; is not graded for size and is susceptible to diseases. Certified seed maize produced by a reputable seed company, has a guaranteed germination of 90%.
Fake seed found in the market place is probably normal grain, which is not a hybrid combination of inbreeds, covered with coloured dust.
“Yield will definitely suffer and the farmer is likely to encounter unnecessary disease pressure like grey leaf spot or maize and mottle streak virus along with impure varietal traits, or a mixture of irregular plants,” he said.
Seed houses, though they are breeding work, are constantly evaluating improved inbred seed maize combinations to provide farmers with better seeds.
Research focuses on improving yield, better disease tolerances and greater agro-ecological adaptability of new products.
De Woronin appealed to traders to take a responsible approach to the products they buy for resale.
“Purchases should only be made from reputable sources of supply such as a seed company, wholesaler or retailer.
Buying seed off the street at unrealistically low prices needs to be avoided,” said De Woronin.