Fake seed sellers con farmers

Farmers are being cheated into buying fake seeds. Investigations by The Zimbabwean revealed that fake seeds, mainly maize and cotton, have flooded the markets, with unscrupulous dealers pouncing mercilessly on unsuspecting farmers.

Fake seeds, mainly maize and cotton, have flooded the market – to the dismay of many farmers who were fooled.
Fake seeds, mainly maize and cotton, have flooded the market – to the dismay of many farmers who were fooled.

The seeds were kept at a warehouse recently raided by police in Mbare. Touts and bouncers monitored the movement of every individual in the premises. Many farmers could be seen outside waiting to buy the seeds.

This reporter established that maize seeds were mixed with coloring liquid to dupe the farmers into believing that they came from a reputable company.

“This is a preserving process so that the grains do not decompose easily,” said one of the workers at the warehouse, claiming to be a subsidiary of a reputable seed company. They collect empty sacks from established companies like Seedco and Panner or Cottco and put in their fake seeds.

Abel Mubaiwa bought maize seed there. But after planting it at his Beatrice farm, he became worried because most of the seed failed to germinate.

“A concerned neighbour asked me where I bought the seeds. I took samples to the company labeled on the sack – and they said the seeds did not belong to them,” said Mubaiwa.

Many farmers believe the seeds are real. “I have come all the way from Banket as this is only the branch selling cheap seeds,” said one. The fake seeds cost as little as $10 for 10kg.

“Yes, our maize seeds are cheap because we give the farmers value for their money and our products are genuine,” said one worker.

When this reporter asked for company certificates and the operating license, he was threatened and chased. The warehouse was subsequently closed as the owners thought he was a police detective.

Last month, police confiscated more than 2,5 tonnes of fake maize seed worth approximately $4,000 from a hardware shop in Mbare. Three people were arrested in connection with the fake seed, which had been painted green, to dupe farmers.

About half a tonne of maize seed from other seed houses was also recovered, but it was not immediately clear whether it was also fake. Criminal Investigation Department spokesperson Augustine Zimbili called on seed houses to carry out programmes to make the public aware of the features of genuine seed or alternatively inform them where they can buy it.

Many African nations are facing the problem of booming fake seeds companies because of poor supply of genuine seeds. Both Nigeria and Uganda have recently highlighted the menace taking its toll on efforts by governments and farmers to achieving food sufficiency.

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