KENYA – The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) has received equipment worth Ksh1.3 million for seed inspection, that will enable real time inspection of various crops such as maize, beans, wheat, sorghum, cowpeas, green grams, potato, rice etc.

Gatsby Africa donated the 30 tablets to facilitate the implementation of the automated seed certification and plant variety protection system, aimed at providing digitalized services to the farming community.

Gatsby Africa is an ambitious and dynamic organization, committed to sector transformation and helping change lives for the better in East Africa.

The seed certification process is a clear way of assuring seed quality, ensuring that the farming community receives viable seeds, resulting in value for money.

“We want smallholder farmers, who are the majority, to get quality seed for enhanced food production,” said Michael Kamau, Director at Gatsby Africa.

KEPHIS has registered more than 150 seed companies hence the new tablets are expected to ease the huge inspection task.

According to Prof Theophilus Mutui, KEPHIS Managing Director, the tablets will enable transmission of real time information and data to KEPHIS, thus enabling faster decision making on seed inspections.

Duncan Onduu of the Seed Trade Association of Kenya noted that digitization of the seed sector would mitigate delays and promote efficiency.

The existing manual registration and licensing processes have been associated with delays, documentation errors and inefficiencies, including security, scheduling and processing time, hence the government potentially wanting to harness technological solutions.

Kenya has been operating on manual inspections since the inception of KEPHIS in 1997, till 2018 when it began developing the automated system, says Rootooba.

Meanwhile, KEPHIS recently shared out standards on Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND) and the selfing in the hybrid seed production during a two-day consultative meeting, according to The Standard.

Maize lethal disease is caused by synergistic co-infection of maize chlorotic mottle virus (MCMV) and a maize-infecting potyvirus such as sugarcane mosaic virus (SCMV).

As the disease advances, the maize leaves become yellow and dry out from the outside edges towards the midrib. MLND can also causes dwarfing and premature aging of the plants.

It was first reported in 2011 in Bomet County with an estimated loss of maize valued at US$ 67 million in 2012. The disease has since spread to other parts of the country, including the Central, Nyanza, Western, and Rift Valley parts of the country.

KEPHIS has been at the forefront of protecting Kenya’s plant health through the regulation of imports of plants and plant materials, phytosanitary inspection and certification, and provision of diagnostic services to support plant health and seed certification.

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