Most seed traded in informal markets in developing countries has neither quality nor varietal identity of the planting material guaranteed. Contaminated material contributes to the spread of diseases resulting in low yields. IITA scientists developed ‘Seed Tracker’, a web-app that registers certified seed producers, allows e-certification of seed, and supports value chain development. The seed certifying authorities of Nigeria and Tanzania have adopted ‘Seed Tracker’, greatly increasing the efficiency of seed certification, and in 2020 Brazil also adopted it.
IITA scientists developed an app, the Seed Tracker, to e-certify seed fields (1, 2). The app allows farmers to locate the availability and purchase high-quality, virus-free seed of improved varieties and to be confident of the identity of the variety they are buying. The Seed Tracker can be used on a smartphone to collect and organize seed production information, making it easier for regulatory institutions to register producers, certify seed fields, monitor seed quality, location, variety, and availability. Seed producers can find expert advice on quality seed production, and information to help buy and sell certified seed. Seed Tracker allows real-time information exchange between producers, regulators, and buyers, saving time and money. The National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) of Nigeria has adopted it (3, 4), replacing cumbersome paper forms that later needed to be transcribed, and the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) has started pilot testing (5, 6), to make seed certification more efficient, accessible and cost-effective. In 2020, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) has decided to adopt it for their program on Network for Multiplication and Transference of Cassava Planting Material with High Genetic and Phytosanitary Standards (RENIVA). The development of the tool is in progress and to be validated in 2021.
Seed Tracker received the “Google.org Impact Challenge award” as a game-changing tool to create economic opportunities in local communities.
Most cassava seed are traded in informal markets in SSA, where neither the quality nor the varietal identity of the planting material is guaranteed, and contaminated material contributes to the spread of diseases resulting in low yields. Therefore, IITA scientists developed the ‘Seed Tracker’, a web app that registers certified seed producers and allows e-certification of seed (1,2). The Seed Tracker is usable on any internet-enabled device and collects and organizes seed production information, making it easier for institutions to monitor seed quality and certify producers. It provides a database for ready access to information, such as seed quantity, location, variety, geography, and availability. Therefore, seed producers can find on-demand expert advice on agronomy, plant health, and more. Moreover, the app can help seed producers along with the seed value chain source and sell certified seed. From 2016 to 2019, over 690 seed production fields in Nigeria registered in the seed tracker, including breeder, foundation, and commercial seed fields.
In 2015, the ‘Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed System’ (BASICS) project worked with the government of Nigeria to pilot the Cassava Seed Tracker. They customized the program specifically to meet the priorities of the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC). The Director-General of NASC, Dr. P Ojo on 10th October 2018 formally declared Cassava Seed Tracker as an e-certification platform for cassava in Nigeria (3,4).
“The Cassava Seed Tracker is helping NASC to understand who, how much and where the seed is produced so they can be trained, mainstreamed, and certified. It helps them to understand the rules, regulations, and best practices to produce quality seed. In time, it will evolve people from informal seed producers to formal seed producers,” stated Dr. Khalid Ishiak, Director Seed Certification and Quality Control of NASC (see also links to Policy contributions).
IITA introduced the app in Tanzania in partnership with the Tanzania Official Seeds Certification Institute (TOSCI) and Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) (5,6). IITA has been working with TOSCI on developing quality standards for cassava seed in the country to ensure that the seed produced is healthy and free of viruses. Consequently, the seed certifying authorities of Nigeria and Tanzania have adopted the use of the application, thus greatly increasing the efficiency and efficacy of seed certification, contributing to the use of the clean seed, and enhancing the availability of new improved varieties. Brazil joined the list of adopted countries.
Stage of Maturity: Stage 1
Contributions in sphere of influence:
1.4.2 - Closed yield gaps through improved agronomic and animal husbandry practices
C.1.3 - Conducive agricultural policy environment
This research was undertaken as part of, and funded by, the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) and supported by CGIAR Trust Fund contributors. Funding support for this work was provided by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Google.org.
Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Seed System for Cassava in Nigeria (BASICS)
Yam Improvement for Incomes and Food Security in West Africa, Phase II (YIFSWA II)
Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Cassava Seed System Phase 2, (BASICS-II)
Building Economically Sustainable Seed Systems for Cassava (BASICS-II)
Newsdiaryonline. (2019, November 1). IITA, Seed Council inaugurate seed trackers for smart farming in Nigeria Newsdiaryonline. Newsdiaryonline. https://newsdiaryonline.com/iita-seed-council-inaugurate-seed-trackers-for-smart-farming-in-nigeria/.