Nairobi start-up to deliver hybrid maize seed to Kenyan farmers


Quali-Basic Seeds managing director Andy Watts. PHOTO | COURTESY

Foundation seed company Quali-Basic Seeds (QBS) has started operations in Nairobi seeking to fast-track commercialisation of newly improved high yielding seed varieties.

In a statement, non-profit agricultural research firm, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) said QBS will source for the latest hybrid maize certified seeds from global research firms and link them to small and medium seed companies for propagation.

Saying this would help fight poverty and improve incomes, AAFT said Sygenta East and Southern Africa former head Andy Watt will head the new outfit (QBS) which was incubated at AAFT.

“Seed technologies are critical to enabling farmers achieve higher agricultural productivity and QBS will address the shortage of early generation seed from the research firms making it available to small holder farmers,” it said.

QBS said it had engaged the National Agricultural Systems, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre(CIMMYT) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture(IITA) for limited production of the hybrid maize foundation seed.

The statement said this would help small and medium seed companies access high quality seeds thereby easing the costs of seeds in the country while ensuring farmers get access to genuine seeds from an array of seed sellers.

QBS said it will allow seed companies to own a stake in the company by buying shares in the Nairobi based firm that plans to serve Kenya and the rest of the sub Saharan Africa.

QBS said it also plans to service other cereals and legumes as it expands its offering in the second and third years.

The venture seeks to end decades-old challenge where farmers lack access to improved region-specific seeds forcing farmers to used stored farm sourced seed leading to perennial poor harvest.