If you are a farmer living in Embu County, Kenya, how do you know which seed to plant? Maybe you decide based on what your neighbors plant or what you’ve always planted. But over the last 10 years, plant breeders in Kenya have likely developed new varieties of seeds with specific traits (like drought resistance or pest resistance) that could thrive on your farm and give you higher yields.
Now, with just a few clicks, Kenyan farmers, and those who support them, can access the exact kind of seed that is well-suited for their planting regions. The online tool, called MbeguChoice (“Mbegu” means “seeds” in Swahili), was launched on June 10th by Agri Experience Ltd in collaboration with other seed organizations in Kenya and support from Kenya Markets Trust.
The database contains over 200 crop varieties with detailed information gathered from plant breeders and seed companies in Kenya. The designers of the tool note that it will be useful to extension workers (government agricultural educators) and agrodealers (local agriculture supply shops), who can use this information as a guide to supplying the right seeds to smallholder farmers in their region.
For example, a farmer in Embu County can now use the tool to identify five different varieties of common bean available that meet the following criteria:
- They mature early, within two-and-a-half to three months;
- They are resistant to disease. For example, the “Miezi mbili” variety is resistant to floury leaf spot disease;
- They are suitable for the short rain season, which occurs from October to December.
To learn more, check out the launch video for MbeguChoice, and read the following articles:
New app to connect Kenyan farmers with climate-smart seeds – Reuters (UK)
Online seed bank to help farmers select varieties suitable for specific areas – Sunday Nation (Kenya)
Kenya : MbeguChoice, une application pour le choix des semences promise à un brillant avenir – Agence Ecofin (Switzerland)