Kenya’s seed industry regulator is launching an SMS text service for farmers, advising them of the ideal maize, sorghum or potato seeds for their region to produce the maximum yields from their farms.
The Short Message Service (SMS) to be operated by Kenya Plant Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), which is the country’s seed industry regulator, has already been trialled for maize, but is now being expanded to include sorghum and potatoes.
“It’s important for farmers to know the correct and suitable seeds that are availed by the various seed merchants,” said Nicholas Tunya, KEPHIS Planning Officer.
The service hopes to end cases where farmers suffer poor harvests or crop failure through planting unsuitable seeds. For instance, when a high altitude maize breed is planted in a mid-altitude environment, the yields are lower due to the harsher weather. “Therefore, the farmer is able to know what maize seed is suitable for his or her area,” said Tunya.
The maize SMS service has been running for 3 years serving farmers in predominantly maize-growing provinces, such as Rift Valley, Western, Eastern and Central Kenya and in some pockets of North Eastern Province.
Last year KEPHIS also rolled out an SMS service to help farmers identify licensed seed sellers and stockists, in an effort to stop the selling of low quality seeds by unlicensed seed merchants.
To use the Maize SMS service, a farmer for instance in a region like Kibwezi sends a text message to 2964 maize#kibwezi. The farmer then receives a text message with maize seed varieties for the Kibwezi region.
For a farmer to identify if he is buying seeds from a KEPHIS licensed seller, he asks the merchant for his KEPHIS seed seller ID. The farmer then sends the ID number to 2332 KEPHIS, and will receive confirmation detailing the seeds’ sellers’ status and if the seller is KEPHIS licensed.
The response service for both services is immediate and costs a farmer Sh10 per message sent on both Zain and Safaricom cell phone services.
For more details and contacts on KEPHIS visit www.kephis.org
Written by James Karuga for African Laughter
Newer news items:
- Local seed grower launches high-quality trial seeds for Sh10 a pack - 01/03/2012 10:43
- slum dwellers adopt urban farming as step up - 01/03/2012 10:36
- kari primes potato sector with fast-track tuber growing technology - 01/03/2012 10:35
- fish group builds satellite centre to upgrade pond yields - 01/03/2012 10:33
- solar water pumping takes root in Kenya - 01/03/2012 10:23
Older news items: