Milestones in the Development of KEPHIS
1944: The 1st seed testing laboratory set up at the National Agricultural Laboratories (NARL), serving mostly the European large scale farmers who wanted to determine the quality of cereals and grass seeds before exporting
1944: Kenya becomes a member of the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA)
1964: The beginning of the process leading to the establishment of the Seed Unit Project, later formalized as the Kenya Inspection Service for Seed (KIS). It was formed to promote the provision, improvement and use of high quality seed of superior, well adopted varieties of improved crop species in Kenya. KIS played the role of a seed quality control agency. Dr. F. Schoorel, then secretary and later president of ISTA, suggested the possibility of the Netherlands assistance in the implementation of the proposed new Seed Ordinance (a draft was prepared in 1962 for an entirely new and more comprehensive Seed Ordinance then in operation) and the extension of the Seed Testing laboratory
1965: With the support of The Netherlands, an improved Seed Testing Laboratory was put up at NARL to enforce the Seed Ordinance of 1962.
1967: The Schoorel/Goettch mission reviewed the then Seed Act under which inadequate seed inspection was being conducted and recommended in its final draft report submitted in May of the same year, that:
- A Seed Unit be established whose task would be to ensure that only high quality seed of adopted crop varieties would reach the farmers. The Unit was to be responsible for field inspection, certification, seed testing and quality control.
- A new seed law accompanying rules be enacted to provide a legal basis for the operation of the proposed Seed Unit
- The Seed Unit to be situated near the centre of seed production
- The physical facilities and staffing of the Unit be reviewed regularly to relate these to the activities of the Unit
- The head of KIS was the officer-in-charge who, in addition to being responsible for the discharge and supervision of the service, was also secretary to the seeds advisory committee. Nakuru, a town situated optimally at the geographical centre of seed producing areas of Kenya, served as the head office of the KIS. However, the KIS operated a sub-station in Kitale to serve the interests of seed crops of hybrid maize, herbage crops and beans concentrated in that area.
1971: A gradual replacement of Dutch personnel by Kenya personnel. It was the intention of the two governments to wind up the participation of the Netherlands personnel in the KIS by the end of 1976 and hand over entirely to Kenyans.
1973: Kenya becomes the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to be honoured when the council of the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, admitted Kenya as a participant in the OECD cereal and herbage seed certification scheme. These schemes operate on the basis of prescribed principles and regulations, including field inspection procedures and regulations. This one factor underlines dependability of our field inspection techniques and consequently field inspection results, a vital point in international seed trade.
1977: Steps initiated to change the name of the service from the KIS to the National Seed Quality Control Service (NSQCS) because of the wider spectrum of activities the service has assumed
1977: Construction of new offices in Lanet begins
1979: The seed testing laboratory was moved from NARL to Lanet. It was then renamed NSQCS and designated as the Official Seed Testing Station. The Official Seed Testing Laboratory was then modernized and joined with the expanded field Seed Certification Program. The station was also mandated to carry out crop variety testing which included Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) and National Performance Trials (NPTs). In 1980, the Official Seed Testing Laboratory was further expanded to include seed pathology tests (virus, bacteria and fungi tests). The seed pathology tests were intended to support seed inspectorate in identifying seed borne diseases and to safeguard against importation of seed borne diseases and pests. KEPHIS mandate includes undertaking inspections, testing, certification, quarantine control, variety testing and descriptors of seeds and plant materials. These were clearly stipulated during the inception of KEPHIS in 1996.
The government therefore felt it was prudent to transfer the NSQCS at Lanet to KEPHIS, which resulted in the Organization taking over all the activities of the seed certification and seed testing as per its mandate. The National Seed Quality Control Service (Official Seed Testing Station) now operates under KEPHIS.
Kitale Regional Office
1971: Started when Kenya with the assistance of the Dutch government started Kenya’s seed industry under the Seeds and Plant Varieties Act (1971) Cap 326; was then a sub-station of the main station at Lanet, Nakuru. The main technical operation was certification of seed, mainly maize and pasture grasses. Like the main station, the Kitale sub-station started a seed certification sub-station known as Kenya Inspection Service for Seeds(KIS) later renamed the National Seed Quality Control Service.
1997: Officially becomes KEPHIS Kitale Regional Office
2011: Kenya’s second seed testing laboratory located at the office is commissioned
Mombasa Regional Office
1924: The Chief Grader and Inspector were charged with grading and inspecting agricultural exports and imports under the Department of Agriculture at the Kilindini Port. They were responsible for overseeing the use of cool stores which were premises for storing agricultural and animal products prior to export. These included butter, meat, fruits and vegetables which attracted charges which were paid to the Chief Grader and Inspector. They had the right to inspect and refuse entry into the cool stores if such products were likely to damage or contaminate other produce.
1936: The Chief Grader mandated to give priority to wheat and maize over beans as the bean beetle was a threat to the export market; was further responsible for collection of charges on behalf of the Kenya/Uganda railways in regard to haulage and handling of agricultural produce. Later, the responsibilities of the Chief Grader and Inspector become more specific to plants, plant products and ship inspection.
1997: KEPHIS established and the functions of the Chief Grader and Inspector were transferred to the Mombasa office which became one of the regional offices of the Organization. KEPHIS Mombasa took over the inspection of imports and exports headed by a regional manager.
1998: The Regional office has two border offices at Taveta and Lunga Lunga
2011: Bura office in Tana River County opened to cater for the increasing number of seed growers at the Bura and Hola Irrigation schemes
Kisumu Regional Office
2006: Started at the Kenya Ports Authority-Inland Container depot to bring KEPHIS services closer to the people of the former Nyanza and western counties. The office was hived partly from Nakuru and Kitale regional offices. Initially the office oversaw two entry/exit points, Kisumu railway pier and Busia Plant Inspection Unit, mainly handling phytosanitary matters.
2007: Office officially commissioned by the then Assistant Minister for Agriculture Hon. Kyalo Kaindi
KEPHIS Naivasha Office
April 2008: Naivasha office opened to bring services closer to clients and decongest the Plant Inspection Unit at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
KEPHIS Embu Office
January 2007: Office was opened with the purpose of being closer to farmers under the then Rapid Results Initiative (RRI).
Upon opening, most exporting firms in the larger Mount Kenya region were accessed for the first time since the inception of KEPHIS.