With Simlaw Seeds Kenya’s climate smart seeds, farmers can sow and reap unperturbed by pests and unpredictable weather.
By CAROLINE MWENDWA
What would it be like if farmers did not have options in what type of seed they sowed. With all the adverse factors limiting yields such as pest diseases and extreme weather, there is no doubt that farmers would be making huge loses, and low yields, that cannot even be commercialised. With research, and technology, Simlaw seeds is one of the seed companies that has been at the fore of offering solutions to uncertainty of farmers when it comes to surmounting these factors.
Being one of the pioneers in this industry since 1929, Simlaw seeds company, a subsidiary of the Kenya Seed Company has contributed immensely in innovations that aid the farmer to beat all challenging factors and get ample yields of what they sow despite the adverse factors. “We have a team of highly qualified agronomists and crop physiologists who are continuously preoccupied with research to develop new varieties of seeds, variety purity maintenance, evaluation and seed increase” says Robert Musyoki- Sales and Marketing Manager at Simlaw seeds Kenya. The company has research fields located in different Agro-ecological regions namely Thika, Njabini, Kiboko, Loitoktok, Bungoma and Kitale.
Climate smart varieties
Simlaw seeds focuses on vegetables and has strong brands such as collards, carrots, tomatoes, onions, capsicums, butternuts, pumpkins, cucumbers, and grains including beans, green grams and cow peas. It has various projects elevating the indigenous vegetables such as amaranth (terere), night shade (managu), spider plant (saga), jews mallow (mrenda), mito and cowpeas vegetables (kunde). “The modern market is slowly appreciating the value and suitability of the indigenous vegetables; there before people disregarded them and largely associated them with poverty,” he observes. He further elaborates that the indigenous vegetables are highly nutritious, easy to grow and fast maturing, widely adaptable and have high leaf yields. Simlaw Seeds company has many flagships widely preferred by farmers and the Nyota F1 tomato stands out among tomato growers. “Nyota F1 tomato is a determinate variety, with an attractive firm oval shape, that is vigorously and widely adaptable and resistant to bacteria wilt,” affirms Musyoki. It has demonstrated good performance in Loitatok, Mwea, Kinamba among other areas. Another of its infamous variety in the category of fruits is the Sweet Rose F1 watermelon; a vigorous hybrid that is oval shaped, large in size about 10-14 kg. “The Sweet rose , is widely adaptable and the fruit is very sweet and crunchy,” he says.
Informing the farmer
Apart from availing the seeds to farmers, Simlaw Seeds has invested in informing and training the farmers on growing the seeds they offer. “We partner with the Central and County governments, NGOs and all stakeholders of agriculture to advance our mission to avail superior and affordable certified horticultural seeds and other inputs to improve agricultural productivity and livelihood of stakeholders. While at it, we disseminate information to farmers on farming procedures that increase yields and reduce wastage during harvest and storage.”
Insights on agriculture
Musyoki acknowledges that hybrid seeds are gaining ground in Kenya with maize seeds leading. “Uptake of the high yielding hybrids is not 100 per cent in Kenya, but the population is slowly realising the potential of upgraded seeds and we can see a steadily increasing adoption,” he says. Hybrid maize variety for example is sowed by 80per cent of farmers, and other crop types are following suit.
Other than lack of knowledge among farmers, another aspect that impedes bountiful farming in Kenya, he says is being rainfall dependent. “The government needs to seriously focus on setting up irrigation infrastructure, and failure to do this will make Kenya a net importer of food,” he warns.
While some farmers have consistently harvested good yields, sometimes market disorganisation of farmers works at their disadvantage. “Securing market for produce is highly critical, but the situation for farmers here in Kenya is such that farmers in one location grow, small scale crops of various types, making it hard for a large-scale buyer to settle for them as suppliers,” he says.
Seed production requires large pieces of land but as population grows, there is more and more demarcation, shrinking the options available for seed companies to breed and produce the seeds. Musyoki says that the situation continues to worsen as younger generations join in, leading to further demarcation. “This situation is presenting us with challenges and the only solution left is coming up with more innovative ways to increase biomass production per unit area,” he quips.
Overtime, there have been numerous entrants in the market, but what keeps Simlaws flag high is their quality of seeds and consistence in terms of quantity. “All our seeds are KEPHIS certified and our customers are used to an unmatched quality and continued innovation,” he concludes.
Caroline Mwendwa is the Editor Management Magazine. Email: Cmwendwa@kim.ac.ke