Beware of counterfeit seed

Source: Beware of counterfeit seed | Herald (Opinion)

Tom Muleya

Fraud Insight

Agriculture is one of Zimbabwe’s economic pillars. The 2021/2022 summer cropping season preparations are already at an advanced stage. Farmers are making final touches to ensure they have secured all inputs on time and have had their soil samples analysed for correct ‘PH’ to enhance increased yields. 

The Chronicle  of 22 July indicated that Government had scaled up preparations for the 2021 agriculture season with the aim of increasing crop production to meet and surpass national requirement. The nation has currently embarked on implementation of the Agriculture Recovery Plan that should see Zimbabwe bounce back as Africa’s bread basket.

With the promise of good rainfall in the SADC region for the summer cropping season, Zimbabwe is expected to receive normal to above normal rains, the nation is definitely set to realise a bumper harvest. 

But alas, the amount of counterfeit, fake or fraudulent crop seed already on the market will deal a great blow to the attainment of the food security goal by 2022.

Farmers will therefore have to be extra careful when buying maize seed  to avoid securing fake seeds which result in low yields. 

Counterfeiters are selling low quality seed disguised as popular hybrid seed varieties. This fake and uncertified seed has a low germination rate and results in poor yields. The counterfeit seed is readily available in the streets, on the parallel market and among unregistered dealers. 

The seed is packaged in real and approved seed companies’ bags. 

The packaging is normally obtained through clandestine ways or through theft. This then makes it difficult for the lay person to detect the fraud.

The Herald of Tuesday 21 September carried a story “Fake maize seed scam bust”. The article indicated that a 31-year-old Karoi woman was arrested on allegations of packaging fake maize seed in 25kg Seed-Co labelled pockets for resale to unsuspecting customers.

 The police had also recovered various colouring paints and other articles that were used to produce fake seeds. The Karoi case is just a tip in the iceberg. Many unsuspecting farmers could actually have secured fake or counterfeit seeds, and only the yield will prove this.

In order to avoid or minimise chances of buying ‘counterfeit seeds’ farmers should consider the following measures;

 Conduct a research prior to purchasing the seed products. This entails obtaining information from the Zimbabwe Seed Industry, and or Agricultural Rural Development Authority (ARDA) among others authorities.

 Deal with a reputable seed maize or agricultural products dealers. Seed must only be bought from recognized and trustworthy dealers.

 Buying seed in the streets or ‘on the black market’ is a recipe for disaster and should be avoided at all costs.

 Never buy seed from unregistered and uncertified dealers.

 Be wary of seed products that are suspiciously low priced or have questionable labels.

 Ensure packaging is properly sealed before purchase.

 Get the right paperwork. The invoices must include product name and seed varieties purchased.


Get empowered by Fraud Insight and be part of a solution to fraud scams. Watch out for the next issue on Identity theft that will look at and provide various possible measures that one can take to protect self from identity theft scams.

For your feedback, WhatsApp line: 0772 764 043, or Tom Muleya is a Detective Assistant Inspector working under the Criminal Investigations Department, Harare.