TOPICS

Crops, Farmers Organizations

SOLUTION TYPE

Innovation (technical or institutional)

REGION

West and Central Africa

The three most important things to monitor when growing seed are; quality, quality and quality! Digitalization of seed inspections facilitates both Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC). essentially Seed Assure does what it says on the box!’ 

Andy Watt, Managing Director, QualiBasic Seed Company Ltd

BACKGROUND

Poor quality or fake seed results in low yields. At the same time, markets across Africa are short of qualified seed inspectors. SeedAssure is an App that provides seed producers and inspectors with a digital checklist of the seed production and processing, which an inspector responds to, recording their observations on the quality of the production.

WHAT’S INVOLVED

This solution comprises the following:

  • An App that is accessed by Seed Inspectors while inspecting seed fields, a cloud based database and a laptop and desktop function for accessing the field data when in an office setting. This enables all actors in the seed supply chain to engage with a digital tool – either on the Internet, through a mobile App or both. By providing a digital checklist, it enables inspectors to record their observations on the quality of the production.
  • SeedAssure is aimed at Seed Inspectors, Seed Companies, Seed Growers and National Seed Authorities. 

EXPLORE THIS SOLUTION

SeedAssure’s technology:

  • Flags any observed concerns in quality and productivity, and requests corrective action to be taken to rectify the anomaly by a prescribed time.
  • Generates reports and automatically emails them to the Seed Inspector, the Seed Grower and the National Seed Authority that are responsible for the seed field. 

This ability to collect digital data when in a field on a smartphone, irrespective of wifi availability, and the ability to share the data amongst multiple users - extendable even to Custom Border officials, agro-dealers and ultimately farmers, ensures that there is a traceable data history that can verify the production details of the seeds.

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Countries involved

Egypt, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Project partners

Cellsoft, Muddy Boots Software, AGcuity, AFSTA, New Markets Lab, COMESA, AGRA, ECI-Africa, SCCI, AATF, STAK, and seed companies like Klein Karoo Seeds in Zimbabwe and QualiBasic Seeds

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Summary

SeedAssure is a digital decision support tool for seed industry professionals with a much stronger reporting and corrective action management capability than existing paper-based processes. Through a checklist of online questions that interrogates every aspect of producing seed to the standard required by National regulations, SeedAssure ensures the Seed Inspector and the grower can analyze and record how the seed fields are performing at different stages of the crop cycle. 

Challenge/problem

Poor quality or fake seed results in low yields and undermines a farm’s ability to be consistent in its production. In general, markets across Africa are short of qualified certified seed inspectors, and this creates a delay in providing this critical service. Every day that a seed field is inspected late by a Government certified seed inspector represents a risk to a heavily invested seed grower. 

The founder thus identified a major opportunity for timely and accurate digital data to support decision making for productivity and quality in seed production and processing. Such a tool would need to be secure, be able to quickly share data with relevant stakeholders, easy to use and robust enough to work in areas without connectivity. The potential of such a solution is that timely and accurate seed reports would greatly improve the information available to the seed farmer thereby helping them grow better quality seed – to the ultimate benefit of farmers who are assured that they are buying genuine, certified and quality seed.

Solution

SeedAssure is aimed at Seed Inspectors, Seed Companies, Seed Growers and National Seed Authorities. It comprises an App that is accessed by Seed Inspectors on a smartphone or tablet while inspecting seed fields. It also comprises a cloud based database and a laptop and desktop function for accessing the field data when in an office setting.

SeedAssure works by providing seed producers and inspectors with a digital checklist of the seed production and processing steps, which the inspector responds to, recording their observations on the quality of the production. The checklist reflects the seed inspection regulations of the country and inspection reports on the status of the seed are digitally sent to the seed grower and to the Seed Authority so that timely corrective action can be taken for any observed non-compliance.

To improve transparency, traceability, and trade in seed, it is envisaged that the data collected along the seed value chain will be made available to multiple users who have an interest in ascertaining that the seed produced and traded is authentic and up to standard. Stakeholders include seed trade associations, border customs officials, farmers, and of course, national seed authorities. SeedAssure ensures it meets the highest standards of data security and permission sharing with relevant actors. 

This ability to collect digital data when in a field on a smartphone, irrespective of wifi availability, and the ability to share the data amongst multiple users - extendable even to Custom Border officials, agro-dealers, and ultimately farmers, ensures that there is a traceable data history that can verify the production details of the seeds, therefore, protecting farmers from counterfeit and fake seeds in the market.

The SeedAssure IT tool is accurate, robust, and supports field seed inspection in any environment, ensuring that growers have the relevant information to get all the seed production and processing steps implemented accurately. Key Partners comprise Cellsoft, Muddy Boots Software, AGcuity, AFSTA, New Markets Lab, COMESA, AGRA, ECI-Africa, SCCI, AATF, STAK, and seed companies like Klein Karoo Seeds in Zimbabwe and QualiBasic Seeds.  

Results

Ten seed companies have now been served in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Egypt Zimbabwe and Zambia. At this stage, it is estimated that productivity on farms that have adopted SeedAssure has increased by one ton extra per hectare or $ 2,000 of Hybrid Seed. In general terms, there has not been a measurable impact on women or young people, but this is likely to happen when the technology goes to scale.  It should also be said that younger people tend to embrace ICT solutions more readily than their older counterparts.  

Lessons learned

Once it matures, it is clear that this technology can be applied to more facets of agriculture in general, enhancing farm records in all spheres of activity. It is also important to establish whether best practice is really being applied, and if so, by whom and where, if we are to improve farm productivity consistently, particularly at points of storage and distribution.

 Next steps

 The players involved are rolling out the technology to sixteen seed companies and ninety-working seed inspectors over the next eighteen months. This pilot will expose any issues, help to establish the broader social value, and enable participants to engage with governments and the private sector, proving that SeedAssure is a valuable tool in terms of enhancing yield, improving quality, ensuring compliance, and improving relationships throughout the seed value chain.

Solution Additional Resources

SeedAssure

Last update: 06/04/2021