AN influx of fake maize seed and fertiliser has hit the market as black market traders seek to cash in during the planting season, The Standard has established.
BY OUR STAFF
As has become the norm every season, criminal elements take advantage of unsuspecting farmers by selling them uncertified and fake seed on the market.
The middlemen collect empty sacks or packaging of reputable seed producers and fill them with ordinary maize seeds mixed with colouring liquid to trick farmers into believing that it is genuine seed.
A visit by The Standard to Harare’s popular market, Mbare, showed several vendors selling fake seed and fertiliser.
Small hand-woven packages were selling for US$1 a bag while a 10kg bag fetched a price of US$10.
“My products are selling at a fast rate and I have them in abundance. On good days I can make several trips to my house collecting more seed,” said a vendor who declined to be identified and claimed that his seed was genuine.
He said since Mbare was a transportation hub, many farmers from the various rural areas were buying the seeds.
“Farmers do not have money, so it’s my job to provide them with this seed which is affordable,” he said.
Genuine seeds usually have protective seed dressing, which is designed not to easily rub off.
In the case of fake seeds, the green colouration rubs off easily.
A 10kg bag of maize seed ranges between US$22 and US$30. High yielding varieties sell above US$40 per 10kg bag.
One farmer who identified herself as Goredema said owing to the little money that she had at her disposal, she was left with no choice but to buy such seed.
“I do not have enough money at the moment so I prefer to buy what I can afford. I have been farming maize for my family for many years buying from these traders so I don’t think this seed is fake,” she said.
Various farmer organisations and seed companies expressed ignorance on the prevalence of the fake seed.
“I have not heard about these issues so I cannot comment about it,” said Zimbabwe Farmers Union president Silas Hungwe.
Despite crackdowns on the unscrupulous traders, the sale of fake seed has continued.