SeedCast App Launched to Transform Rice Seed Demand and Supply in Tanzania
Dar es Salaam, 31st August 2023
Patrick Ngwediagi, the Director General of the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI), has officially launched SeedCast, a revolutionary mobile app set to transform Tanzania’s rice seed market.
In a high-profile unveiling at the Rice Breeding Innovations Partners’ Annual Meeting in Dar es Salaam, Ngwediagi stressed TOSCI’s unwavering commitment to propelling agricultural innovation, particularly in the area of seed quality and availability.
The Rice Breeding Innovations Partners’ Annual Meeting The event brought together representatives from 11 countries and over 100 rice experts, marking a pivotal moment for agricultural innovation on an international scale.
The revolutionary mobile application, SeedCast, is set to transform the way rice seed supply and demand information is shared. It has been developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for use by rice stakeholders, working in collaboration with both the public and private sectors in Tanzania.
With its user-friendly features, SeedCast has the potential to reshape rice production dynamics. It aims to boost productivity in Tanzania—a major player in rice production within the East and Southern Africa (ESA) region—by narrowing the gap between supply and demand information.
TOSCI Director General, officially introduced the app, expressing gratitude to participants for joining hands in this transformative journey. “As TOSCI, we are committed to driving agricultural innovation. SeedCast acts as a hub connecting farmers, seed suppliers, and policymakers, fostering collaboration,” Ngwediagi emphasized.
He said the app will align with existing laws and terminologies, underscoring that SeedCast will be thoroughly reviewed to ensure it meets local and international standards.
Dr. Dennis Tippe, the Director of the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute’s Uyole Agricultural Research Institute in Mbeya, noted:
“As someone who has seen firsthand the struggles our farmers go through in identifying quality seeds for better yield, SeedCast is revolutionary.” He believes that the platform will significantly ease the often cumbersome process of determining the right type, quantity, and location of quality seeds.
Dr. Tippe emphasized that SeedCast’s strength lies in its localized application. “From the grassroots level, even village agricultural officers can make use of this system to provide timely information about available seeds in local stores or agro-dealers.”
According to Dr. Tippe, one of the significant benefits of SeedCast is data-driven decision-making. “District councils will now have access to data that can inform them about the volume of seeds available, allowing for better planning and deployment. The app’s analytics will also serve the national need to match seed production with demand.”
Dr. Tippe pointed out that the lack of accurate, timely information has long been a bottleneck for Tanzanian farmers. “SeedCast addresses this gap by providing farmers with verified data about where they can find quality seeds, how much they cost, and how far they need to travel to get them.”
He highlighted that the app’s initial version is for smartphones but revealed that the next phase would make the data available via standard SMS. “We are starting smart but thinking inclusively. Soon, farmers will receive this crucial information through regular text messages.”
“Africa spends a lot of money importing food, yet we have fertile land for production. The challenge is quality seed availability, where education comes into play. We must educate our farmers to produce better and more efficient crops,” noted Dr. Ajay Panchbhai, Regional Breeding Lead (ESA), and Seed Systems and Product Management Lead – Africa at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
Martin Ndomondo, Seed Systems Specialist, IRRI – ESA at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), expressed optimism about the new digital system they are implementing. “The advent of this digital system will be a game-changer. It enables farmers to directly and easily identify nearby seed distributors through a simple smartphone application. Sellers can input the amount of seed stock they have, thus making it easier for farmers to reach them and place orders,” he said.
Detailing the logistical aspect, Ndomondo explained, “Our supply officers are collecting needs from farmers and registering this data from the village level up to the district level. The system ensures that this vital information percolates through different administrative levels, ultimately reaching the national stage for comprehensive needs assessment.”
On the subject of technological adaptation, he noted, “The world is going digital, and so are we. The system will be accessible both via smartphone apps and websites. While currently available on smartphones, our goal is to make it compatible with all types of mobile devices soon.”
The three-day Rice Breeding Innovations Partners’ Annual Meeting held in Dar es Salaam serves as a critical junction for global collaboration in the field of rice agriculture. Tanzania’s significance in the rice industry amplifies the importance of this event. As a major player in rice production, Tanzania holds a pivotal role not only within its own borders but also across the East and Southern Africa (ESA) region.