East African smallholder farmers in Kenya and Tanzania will sow hybrid rice seeds on their farms this planting season, thanks to the FoodTrade East and Southern Africa’s investment in Afritec Seed Company Limited. This is the first time these farmers will plant hybrid rice seed.
In a region believed to have high potential for rice production, smallholder farmers typically plant recycled local varieties which do not produce high yields nor are they drought resistant or disease tolerant. In the past this has meant that the region produces well below the world average per hectare.
With funding from FoodTrade ESA, Afritec Seed Company has begun commercialising hybrid rice seeds from its research stations in Malindi, Kenya, targeting smallholder farmers in Kenya and Tanzania. In its first season the company has registered some 50 metric tonnes of seeds in both countries just before the planting season begins. This volume of seeds is expected to benefit approximately 2,000 smallholder farmers in the target countries. The company is linking with local NGO partners and companies to scale up the distribution of seeds to smallholder farmers. In Tanzania, Afritec Seed Company also cooperates with the USAID/Feed the Future-funded NAFAKA (Staples) Project and the International Fertiliser Development Centre (IFDC) to use their extensive networks to reach farmers while in Kenya Afritec will work with IFDC and the USAID-funded Kenya Agricultural Value Chains Enterprises (KAVES) project.