By Peter Oliver Ochieng
Farmers in Vihiga County are expected to start accessing quality seeds at their doorsteps, after official commissioning of a community seed bank in Esalwa village, West Bunyore Ward, Emuhaya Sub County.
The Seed Bank was set up courtesy of partnership between the County government of Vihiga and various organizations, among them Bioversity International, International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Biovision, World Agro forestry and Seed Savers Network.
The Community Seed Bank was set up with an aim of ensuring that farmers have adequate knowledge in seed production, for food and nutrition security in the County and beyond.
Speaking during the event, Dr. Wilbur Otichillo, the Vihiga County Governor said the Bank will go a long way in boosting research and imparting knowledge to farmers in matters concerning seed preservation, propagation and best farming practices.
He said they will seek to register the Bank so as to be allowed to sell seeds across the Country. “Relevant institutions will help us to register this seed bank so that we can be allowed to sell quality seeds across the Country. We will buy a machine to gauge the quality of seeds and another one for packaging.”
According to Dr. Celine Termonte, Bioversity International representative, construction of the Seed Bank started in 2019, with end of construction works paving the way for seed multiplication, which has been going on well.
“We are multiplying 30 different varieties of traditional vegetables, 18 species and different varieties of fruits. We are multiplying 30 varieties of beans, 13 varieties of sorghum and much more to follow. It is about diversifying our diets, nutrition and adaptation to climate change,” she said.
“The farmers are not only conserving the seeds, they are also properly documenting those varieties. We are proud because Vihiga has something unique to offer, and that is access to quality seeds.”
On her part, Esther Odera, a nutritionist who works with the Ministry of Health said food security and nutrition security go hand in hand.
“The nutrition component comes in when the food is coming on the table and it is very important. It is all about food security and nutrition security because as much as you have food security and your nutrition security is poor, still we are not going to have energetic people around.”
The partners are expected to champion for market linkages, in a bid to ensure that farmers obtain an income from the Seed Bank.