Official says counterfeit seeds worsen food insecurity in Africa

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An influx of counterfeit and sub-standard seeds have worsened food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa, a trade organization official said on Thursday.

Michael Keller, secretary general of the International Seed Federation (ISF), said robust interventions are key to ensuring that African small-holder farmers have access to high quality but affordable seeds.

“There is a need to adopt a harmonized approach to ensure African farmers have access to certified seeds that are resistant to pests, diseases and climatic shocks,” Keller told a pan-African congress on seeds in Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa.

Keller called on African governments to collaborate and put in place a harmonized phytosanitary system to help control the movement of new pests in the continent.

“The system will help the continent access high quality and innovative seeds for farmers to enable them to reap maximum profit,” he said.

The move will also help motivate seed firms to deliver quality seed to their customers, Keller said.

“The system will facilitate trade and maintain access to high-quality seeds by farmers at a reasonable cost,” he said, noting that seeds are the main transmitters of diseases.

“You have to increase awareness and strengthen enforcement of counterfeit seeds to save farmers from making losses,” Keller said.

He urged support for African countries to enact intellectual property rights and called on the private sector to ensure small-holder farmers have access to certified seeds in a timely manner.

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