Agribyte: MbeguChoice, A Free Seed selection App
You reap what you sow, your crop yields will depend on the quality of seeds you will plant. But, do you know the most suitable seeds for your farm? Farmers in Kenya can choose the best seed variety for their farm location. Access “Mbegu Choice.” a free seed selection invention in Kenya.
Rural farmers lack access to timely and accurate information about quality farm inputs such as certified seed, fertilizers and farm chemicals. As a result, they are used to planting uncertified, fake and recycled seeds, as a result, they get poor yields every season.
They used to rely on public extension officers. However, their effectiveness is declining with many challenges facing the extension service provision. These include limited access with the current ratio of an agriculture officer to farmers being 1:1000. The officers lack appropriate facilitation to access farmers in very remote areas.
Mbeguchoice seeks to fill this informational gaps for various users. It will help you to generate a list of approved and suitable seed varieties for your region. It is applicable for different kind of users including farmers, relatives, agro-dealers and extension specialists.
How Mbegu choice platform works.
The seed bank access assistance tool is offered in English and Swahili languages. As a user, you start by choosing your language.
The second step involves you typing in your county. You will then select your ecological zone from a drop-down menu where your farm is situated. The system currently lists five ecological zones; coastal or dryland, dry land to mid-altitude transitional, mid-altitude, mid-altitude to high land transnational and the highland zones.
You will then select the crop type you are looking for. The database has over 200 seed crop varieties, they include 61 varieties of maize, 25 of common bean, 11 of cassava, 13 of Irish potato, and 12 of sorghum. Other seed types on the Mbegu Choice seed platform are Rice, cassava and finger millet.
The platform will then display a list of the suitable seed appropriate for your area. You can further filter the varieties output using additional criteria of three areas
- Crop maturity; where you can choose extra early, early, medium or late varieties
- Crop characteristics; here you can select the drought and disease tolerant types. You can also choose consumer-preferred variety or types that are resistant to storage and field pests
- Planting season, you choose a variety preferred for short rains or long rains seasons or one suitable for both.
The user will then download the results on a PDF file.
How to use Mbeguchoice information.
You will access very detailed information including the year the seed was commercialised and the company/supplier
Farmers can specify the seed varieties suitable for the region. A grower has more control in managing their crop by getting crops suitable for their operations like drought tolerance. They will also learn which seed companies produce seed of these varieties. These are likely to improve farmer’s yields increase.
Seed traders and agro-dealers can now stock the newly released seeds and those that are best suited to their region of operation translating to higher profits. They also know which seed companies suppliers they should contact making their sourcing efficient and smooth.
Similarly, extension officers and agri-consultants can have the latest information to advice their farmers. They can advise on best-certified crop seed varieties that are available to farmers in a certain region. They can guide farmers on seed varieties to buy and which attributes that they should look for like drought resistance.
Planting suitable seeds on your farm will improve farmer’ yields and profits. MbeguChoice was developed by Agri Experience in partnership with the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) and Kenyan crop seed companies, with support from Kenya Markets Trust. Currently, the invention is championed by the seed traders association of Kenya (STAK)
The database is available on a website and an android mobile application.