Kenyan Firm on the Spot in Rwanda's Fake Seeds Scandal

  • Rwandan President Paul Kagame
    Rwandan President Paul Kagame
  • A Kenyan firm is at the centre of a fake seeds scandal in Rwanda after farmers raised the alarm over failed yields. 

    The farmers in Bugesera District had hopes of reaping big after investing in watermelon seeds but have been left counting losses.

    A farmer Safari Kanzeguhera claimed to have invested Rwf1.7 million (Ksh188K) hoping to generate Rwf2 million (Ksh222K) in profits from the crop in three months.

    A watermelon farm
    A watermelon farm

    In addition to buying the seeds, he leased land and irrigation equipment, paid for workers, fertilisers, agro-chemicals, and other farm inputs 

    We bought the seeds from agro-dealers who also buy them from importers. “We need compensation so that we get capital for the next planting season," he was quoted by a Rwandan outlet The New Times.

    The sad state of the harvest was replicated by another farmer Jean Uwihoreye, who stated that he had invested Rwf2.4 million (Ksh266K) which he lost completely.

    The farmers hoped that the seed variety which was provided by a Kenyan firm would be harvested after 90 days. 

    A seed expert who spoke to, confirmed that there was a variety of seed that germinates and fruits within 90 days. 

    He, however, noted that there are certain conditions that need to be met for the fruits to mature in the expected timeline.

    "Climatic conditions in different areas can play a huge role in how the crop performs, for example, a variety that does well with the wet conditions in Meru may underperform in a drier area for example Makueni," he explained.

    A representative of the seed company operating in Rwanda stated that they had a plan to address the farmers' concerns.

    "We will meet the farmers soon. We’ll compare with other districts where similar varieties were supplied to assess the situation. If the seeds were fake, farmers have to be compensated," the spokesperson assured.

    Watermelons on a farm
    Watermelons on a farm