The beginning | The seed certification process is a clear way of assuring seed quality hence ensuring that the farming community receives seeds that are viable resulting in value for money.
The process of seed certification is divided into three:
- Variety description which results in development of the variety descriptors.
- Field inspections which ascertains the trueness to type of the crop variety.
- Seed testing which assures the seed purity and germination which the seed must meet for it to be sold to farmers.
In the footsteps of two African countries
KEPHIS Ag. MD Simeon Kibet says that the process has been automated in the developed world while in Africa, two countries have done a certain level of automation.
“South Africa and Zambia have automated their seed certification processes while Kenya has operated on manual inspections since the inception of KEPHIS in 1997. The Organization has for the last two years started the development of the automated seed certification system which is now at the piloting stage with Kenya Seed Company (KSC) in Kitale and Bubayi Limited. KSC specializes in all kinds of seed crops while Bubayi focuses on beans. The automation was based on lessons learned from the two African countries.”
The new System will have the following benefits:
- Faster registration of seed crops.
- Faster imputing of seed inspectors results.
- Ease of registering crop varieties for Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability(DUS).
- Ease of getting variety release results of crop varieties by the breeders.
- Ease of seed testing results transmission to seed companies.
- Transparent and efficient method of payment by mobile money transfer for services rendered.
- Ease of getting seed sellers licenses by stockists and agents.
- Faster means of requesting for services i.e. labelling, work orders, sampling and re-sampling of seed
From May 2020 to April 2021, growers are being registered; seed crops are being registered online; inspections will be requested online and data captured in real time; and data will be processed automatically through the system and will be accessible to merchants online. From March 2021, all seed players will be incorporated into the system and KEPHIS will register all growers and all seed crops online as well as new inspections. Companies will therefore be able to follow the progress of all their seed certification activities online.
Ag. GM for Quality Assurance Simon Maina says good progress has been made towards the registration of crops. “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.” KEPHIS and TMEA have engaged stakeholders in Nairobi, Taita Taveta, Mombasa, Kwale, Nakuru, Kisumu, Tana River and Baringo. KEPHIS Kitale Regional Manager Ephraim Wachira says this will create efficiency in the seed certification process by reducing time spent by inspectors entering inspection data in the computer databases and writing reports. Seed companies will be able to track in real time the progress of certification of their seeds.
The System will therefore save clients time and money they would have used to travel to the nearest KEPHIS office to apply for licenses. However, inspectors will still be required to inspect seed sellers’ premises physically to ensure that seed is stored and handled well to maintain high seed quality.
The automation is financed by Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) and is expected to be officially launched in 2021.