Kenya has developed a online system which enhances innovative way of providing quality seeds to all farmers. In a bid to weed out fakes in the market, the country has joined South Africa and Zambia by shifting from the current manual system to a digital platform.
The system whose development was financed by Trade Mark East Africa is capable of doing away with associated delays, documentation errors, inefficiencies and longer processing time in the sector.
According to Mr Simeon Kibet, the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service managing director, the new system has been under development over the last two years and is currently being piloted by two companies.
“The Kenya Seed Company (KSC) in Kitale and Bubayi Limited are running the pilot programme with KSC specializing in all kinds of seed crops while Bubayi focuses on beans with the automation largely based on lessons learned from the two African countries.”, Mr Kibet said.
The long-term belief that seeds are at the heart of a healthy food system and form the basis of a country’s food basket has seen most developed nations establish an automated seed quality determination, storage and distribution system. Just as is the case in such nations, the newly designed online digital system will enhance and fasten the process of seed certification in the country.
System Registration and Inspection
Mr Kibet noted that they are currently conducting online registration for growers and seed crops, a process set to continue to April next year.
The platform will also be used in the inspection of registered seeds. The inspection data will then be relayed to the relevant authorities in real time who will then approve distribution of quality seeds to farmers and make them accessible to merchants online.
“Seed companies will be able to track in real time the progress of certification of their seeds and the system will therefore save clients time and money they would have used to travel to the nearest Kephis office to apply for licenses,” says the agency.
“By November 2020, we also expect to have applications for National Performance Trials (NPTs) and Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) tests. Training for staff and stakeholders is also ongoing, but this has been interrupted due to COVID-19.”, noted Simon Maina, the agency’s acting general manager for quality assurance.
The agency and TMEA have already engaged stakeholders in Nairobi, Taita Taveta, Mombasa, Kwale, Nakuru, Kisumu, Tana River and Baringo and looking forward to resume the engagement process when the COVID-19 infection curve flattens in the country.