SEED-CO Zambia International has put up expensive intervention measures to protect the integrity of its brand and interests of its customers from illegal and fake seed traders, says market development manager Brian Mhango.
Responding to a press query, Mr Mhango said the company had from time to time become aware of unscrupulous “traders” offering fake seed products on the market which he said undermined the Zambian seed industry.
“Seed-Co takes quality as one of its key strategic focus areas and over the years we have invested millions of dollars in our facilities to bring them to world-class standards to ensure we churn out seeds which meet and exceed international quality standards both for local and export markets,” he said.
Mr Mhango said the fake seed also undermined the credibility of seed houses since it could not perform to the expectations of farmers.
“From time to time we get unscrupulous ‘traders’ offering fake or counterfeit seed products on the market which undermines the seed industry and brand credibility for seed houses since these fake seeds don’t perform to the expectations of farmers,” he said.
He explained that fake seeds had the potential to deprive seed companies of revenue and brought the concerned seed product into disrepute as farmers believed they were buying genuine seed, hence they lost income and their food security was threatened.
In order to fight the trend, Mr Mhango said Seed-Co carried out farmer sensitization programmes on product features and disseminated information on where farmers could buy genuine certified seeds.
“Seed-Co has also carries out a lot of farmer sensitization on product features as well as dissemination of information on where farmers can buy genuine certified Seed-Co seeds and find authorized Seed-Co stockists country wide.
“In addition to our distinctive colorful poly-laminated packaging, Seed-Co seeds are coated with ‘glitter’ (which gives our seeds a sparkle appearance) to distinguish it from counterfeit products; so farmers know if it doesn’t glitter then it’s not Seed-Co,” he said.
Mr Mhango said these interventions were expensive but worthwhile investments to protect the integrity of the brand.
“The primary interests of our customers who are the farmers are very important, and this has positioned us as the number one seed house in the country,” he said.
Mr Mhango said the seed marketed by Seed-Co went through rigorous testing and certification by the Seed Control and Certification Institute (SCCI) under the Ministry of Agriculture that had the legal mandate under the Plant Variety and Seed Act.
He explained that the seed was rigorously tested for variety protection as well control of quality.