D. Karanja; J.C. Rubyogo; N. Kimotho; D. Wozemba; T. Mutuoki
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A poster presented at the 2012 Global Pulse Researchers Meeting, Kigali, Rwanda- “Transforming Grain-Legume Systems to Enhance Nutrition and Livelihoods”. Abstract: Common beans is an important food crop in Kenya grown mainly by small scale farmers in drought prone areas. Access to certified seed of improved bean varieties is mainly through relief aid. Despite the presence of more than 70 seed companies operating in Kenya, only two companies market bean seed particularly to government and humanitarian organizations. One reason given for this is lack of business profitability and unreliable market for bean seed. This poster describes a study aimed at increasing access of farmers to certified seed of beans in marginal/drought prone areas of Kenya. In partnership with Dryland Seed Company, NGOs and public organizations, CIAT-PABRA/KARI set up marketing trials to establish the affordability and marketability of small seed packs (100-2000g), and determine how to sustain their supply. It was noted during farmers’ meetings and field days that farmers preferred 100g (USD 0.25 per unit) and 250g (USD 0.6) packs. The majority (60%) of those buying small packs were women. Farmers buying from agro-dealers shops preferred between 500g (USD 1) and 1000 g (USD 2.2) packs. While public organizations and NGOs sold 20% and 30% of their stocks, respectively, the seed company through its agro-dealership sold 60 % of its stocks. From the study, it was found that land fragmentation into smaller sizes has made large pack sizes not very useful to farmers especially for improved varieties. Small seed packs are useful tool for improving access to certified seed to a large range of farmers (rich and poor, men or women) and also provide an opportunity to build private sector capacity in marginal dry land areas. This is more sustainable than building capacity for NGOs/government-led free distribution schemes. For instance, Dryland Seed Company has already started using small packs for beans, cowpeas, mung beans and maize in in sizes of 500 g, 1 kg and 2 kg rather than 5 kg packs.