Written by Shillah Mwadosho
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Farmers in Nandi County have reacted furiously against government’s stand that maize Lethal Necrosis disease which has invaded crops in various parts of the country had nothing to do with the quality of seeds.
The angry farmers accused the Ministry of Agriculture of “fabricating lies” that research conducted ruled out the allegations of fake seeds suspected to have been contaminated.
The farmers said that they suspect that the disease which had only affected hybrid H614 in the County was due to fake seeds they purchased from a Seed Company which might have been contaminated with causative agents.
Through their spokesman Stephen Rono, tens of leading maize farmers in Kapsabet said that the statement by the government was a way of discouraging farmers from demanding compensation.
Rono said that the ministry of Agriculture should elaborate why hybrid H614 was the only variety affected by the disease.
“We are being told that it is spreading fast and yet it has not attacked other varieties in this region,” he said.
Rono said that the ministry was taking advantage of lack of laboratory knowledge among the farmers to shun them from knowing the truth when they had earlier doubted the genuineness of the seeds.
“When farmers had planted their seeds, many complained that there were negative changes unlike in the past. We suspect that infections had been there before planting was done,” he said.
Speaking to West Fm in Kapsabet on Saturday after a meeting with the farmers, Rono said, “we shall not tolerate lies created by the government and we shall take the matter to court for farmers to be compensated if the disease continue spreading.”
Our attempt to contact Kapsabet district Agricultural Officer Thomas Bett were unsuccessful but Kabiyet District Officer Julius Kiboi had earlier said that the attack may be attributed to the differences in genetic makeup of the maize seeds.
“One variety may be vulnerable due to its genetic makeup. But we shall get proper clarification from laboratory results and explain to farmers in a clearer way.”
The reaction of farmers came after the disease was confirmed to have landed in Nandi County where four cases in Kabiyet division were confirmed.
Kiboi said that the four farmers who had their maize attacked by the disease were surprised to note that only one variety in their plantations had been affected.
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