Seeds go digital: faster and better-quality certification, a game-changer for African farmers?

Many Kenyan maize farmers are busy preparing their seed stock for the next planting season. Sowing high quality seeds of stress tolerant varieties is a cost-effective way for African smallholder farmers to boost their harvests while being resilient to evolving crop pests and diseases as well as an erratic climate. However, even if a majority of farmers buy their seeds, they are often of dubious quality, or of old, outdated varieties, which do not cope well against increasing drought and heat shocks or emerging diseases.

The African seed sector has long been plagued by counterfeit seeds and a complex and costly certification process, which hampers access to better, higher-yielding, wide-ranging varieties for farmers. To solve this certification bottleneck, seed actors are looking at digital solutions for faster, more accurate seed quality checks for both seed producers and regulators.