Rwandan Farmers record losses after ‘Fake’ watermelon seeds purchase

Farmers in the Bugesera District of Rwanda are counting their losses following the planting of ‘fake’ watermelon seeds supplied by Kenyan firm, Kenya Seed Rwanda Ltd.

The firm, a subsidiary of Simlaw Seeds Company supplied a seed variety known as Watermelon Julie F1, to farmers in the district.

The development has left farmers who were hoping to reap big, in shock. The watermelon seeds were expected to be harvested after 90 days, but showed no sign of growth 80 days after planting.

According to reports, a farmer from Kintambwe, Safari Kanzequhera, invested about Rwf1.7million and was hoping to generate Rwf2 million in profits in the space of 3 months.

“We bought the seeds from agro-dealers who also buy them from importers,” he said.

Like many other farmers, Kanzeguhera leased the land and irrigation gears, paid for workers, fertilizers, agro-chemicals and other farm inputs as part of his investment in the business.

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“We need compensation so that we get capital for the next planting season,” he said.

The farmers made it known when accosted by reporters that they are yet to get a response from Kenya Seed Rwanda Ltd and Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB).

Meanwhile, Charles Bucagu, the Deputy Director-General of Agriculture Research and Technology Transfer at RAB told newsmen that they are yet to meet with the seed distribution firm.

“We deployed a team from RAB and Bugesera district to assess the issue. I am waiting for the detailed report but we are set to meet the company that supplied the seeds to discuss how farmers can be supported,” he said.

Reports have it that the Kenya Seed Rwanda Ltd has branches in different parts of the country, hence the possibility of the fake seed being supplied to other districts.

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On the company’s part, it is set to meet with the affected farmers in the district, according to one of its officials, Monique Nyirahagenimana.

“We will meet the farmers soon. We’ll compare with other districts where similar varieties were supplied to assess the situation. If the seeds were fake, farmers have to be compensated,” she assured.

Source: AgroAfrica Magazine

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