One of the best approaches to boosting agricultural production is planting improved seeds and taking advantage of modern farming technologies. It is no longer easy to expand land under cultivation because of the rapid population growth and the increasing scramble for land. To feed ourselves and to get out of poverty we have to pay more attention to agricultural technology in order to produce more crops in the limited farming space. We will not cut down natural forests or settle in wetlands to carry out crop production. This speaks to making the best of what we have in order to achieve prosperity and food security.
When we talk about farmers purchasing improved seeds as one of the ways to increase crop yields some people think the farmers are denied the right to plant their own saved seeds. Activist groups claiming to fight for peasant farmers’ rights go as far as taking legal action to ensure that farmers continue planting seeds saved from previous harvests. They believe that seed breeders and seed companies are out to exploit farmers.
Saving and planting seeds from the previous harvest is an old practice in Africa and it is still done even today. Agriculture employs about 70 percent of the population but a typical African farmer works against so many odds, including climate change effects, under nutrition, pests, low production, depleted soils, food insecurity, and ignorance of available technology options like cloning, tissue culture, hybridisation, and grafting, among many others.
Our farmers should take advantage of the same technologies that are available to other farmers in the different parts of the world to compete well in industrialisation and economic development. We have to utilise discoveries and innovations made in our agricultural research institutions and universities. Breeders come up with different crop seeds that are quick maturing, nutritious, drought tolerant, disease resistant, high yielding, clean and disease free.
In their essay, titled, “Can the supply of quality seed match demand?” Dannie Romney, Roger Day, Daniel Karanja, and Niels Lowaars have written: “The Green Revolution in Asia was based on improved crop varieties (particularly rice and wheat) which together with expanded use of agro-chemicals and irrigation led to dramatic yield increases.” The savings made by planting home saved seeds can hardly compare with the huge profits from using improved seeds. Serious farmers should therefore always have a budget for improved seeds.