With the planting season just a few weeks away, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KARLO) has raised the red flag over a cartel selling fake maize seeds to farmers.

The agency says the fake seed merchants are working with a non-governmental organisation (NGO) which is selling uncertified seeds.

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The alert comes at a time when seed merchants across the country are recording booming business as farmers buy in bulk in readiness for the planting season that is expected to start at the end of this month.

KARLO director-general Eliud Kireger said the unscrupulous traders are wooing farmers to buy the fake seeds on claims that they have been released by the agency through a joint research venture.

However, Mr Kireger did not name the NGOs and traders who have been fleecing farmers of their hard-earned money.

In a signed press statement Thursday, Mr Kireger said that conmen have also been selling indigenous chicken purporting to be the popular indigenous breed from KARLO.

“We wish to advise farmers that KARLO has not entered into any agreement whatsoever with some of these fake collaborators going round the country conning them using our name and we urge the them to visit our institutes and centres across the country for clarification and information,” said Mr Kireger.

He said currently the agency is working in partnership with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) to develop water efficient maize varieties in the country.

“These new maize varieties are high yielding and drought tolerant and we have been carrying out farm demonstrations in Kirinyaga County and therefore no NGO can claim ownership of these varieties,” said Mr Kireger.

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He dismissed claims by some of the NGOs that the new Wema maize variety matures in three months and is immune to stem borer and other pests.

“These are unfounded claims that are not supported by any research evidence because NGOs in Kenya do not carry out agricultural research since they are not mandated to do so by law neither do we conduct joint research with them,” he added.

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