TANZANIA – Tanzania has launched a digital innovation App poised to benefit the rice sector by strengthening rice seed demand and supply information, bringing improved, high-yielding rice varieties closer to the growers.

Dubbed ‘SeedCast,’ the digital app was developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in India in collaboration with partners including Odisha States Seed Corporation (OSSC) and the Odisha Department of Agriculture.

In Tanzania, its development plan began in June 2021 under IRRI’s broader mission of South-South Collaboration but more specifically aligned to the project Accelerated Genetic Gain in Rice (AGGRi) Alliance which began in 2019.

The app was officially launched by Dr Patrick Ngwediagi, the Director General of the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI), during the recently held three-day NARES-IRRI breeding network’s Annual Advancement Meeting held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

, “Our nation has been waiting for a long time for an innovative, timely, and cost-effective solution for aggregating seed demand directly from their users who are the farmers themselves,” said Dr. Patrick.

He acknowledged the acceptance of his institution to host and manage SeedCast-Tanzania, adding that his institution’s mandate role is a regulator in the seed value chain but because of the sub-sector’s infancy, his institute has been playing a role as a facilitator and collaborating with various development partners in the efforts to contribute to the growth of the sub-sector.

On his part, Dr. Dennis Tippe, Director of Policy and Planning said that the app acts as a hub connecting farmers, seed suppliers, and policymakers, fostering much-needed collaboration in the Tanzanian seed chain.

It provides verified data about where farmers can find quality seeds, how much they cost, and how far they need to travel to get them. The app’s analytics will also serve the national need to match seed production with demand, he explained.

He added that this can help encourage farmers to adopt improved, higher-yielding varieties, speeding up varietal replacement.

The app’s main features

The main features of the app include increased accessibility through language and technology localization and integration. Swahili was added as a language feature since it is Tanzania’s major local language.

The database is populated with rice varieties available in the country. To improve ease of access, account usage, and communication,  internet allowances are provided to extension workers who will be mediating between farmers and traders. 

Dr. Ngwediagi assured that SeedCast has been developed to align with existing laws and terminologies, and will be thoroughly reviewed to ensure it meets local and international standards.

SeedCast-Tanzania’s launch was attended by various stakeholders of the rice value chain from private and public sectors, policymakers, researchers and experts from partner institutions, and the rice breeding and seed systems from various IRRI country offices in Africa and Asia.

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