(And Seed Availability Finder)
1. Maize Variety Selector Rational
Maize growers and service providers in Africa often have little information on the type of varieties that can be grown in their localities. Product information on maize seed packages is usually limited, with varieties being categorized in imprecise altitude (low, medium, high) and maturity classes (early, medium, late). As a result, farmers cannot make their variety choice. Harvesting at the right time is important for both the quantity and quality of the maize harvested. It is challenging to estimate the timing of different growth stages, such as flowering and maturity dates. In addition, maize varieties’ characteristics are often unknown to farmers and service providers. Such lack of information makes it hard to decide on a variety to plant, the timing of crop management activities within the season, and to time planting with favorable harvesting and marketing periods.
2.Maize Variety Selector Functionalities
Maize Variety Selector is an analytical tool/application that provides:
- Site-specific predictions of harvest date, for different planting dates, of varieties available to farmers in a given region;
- A recommendation on which varieties match user-defined preferred planting and harvest dates;
- A database of the characteristics of released varieties; and
- An database of agro-dealers who stock seed
Figure. Schematic representation of MVS functionalities with links to farmers and agro-dealers
3. Maize Variety Selector Potential Users
By providing information on the outlets for specific varieties, the MVS facilitates linkages between different actors in the maize value chain for optimum production and profit. The MVS target the following types of user:
- Farmers – are the ultimate beneficiaries as MVS helps them to identify the best variety for their specific location, desired growth period and planting date. MVS provides information on variety characteristics.
- Extension workers – MVS helps extension workers to deliver effective services to farmers by using the tool for decision making. Next to providing variety specific information, the tool can be used as ‘pocket library’ and source information to extension workers.
- Agro-dealers – With its capacity to link variety preferences to seed outlets, MVS links farmers, extension workers, and agro-dealers, therefore enabling maize value chain integration. The tool helps agro-dealers and other seed providers to understand the demand for particular varieties in specific regions and locations. Variety in the MVS database is associated with the company/institute that produced it, therefore helping seed deliverers to distinguish among suppliers and where to go for renewal of variety stock.
4. Maize Variety Selector Access Options
The predictions that drive the site-specific advices of the MVS are derived from the analysis of either multi-location trial data or calibration experiments across a temperature gradient. There are currently four country-based versions of MVS, namely Ethiopia (20 varieties), Kenya (22 varieties), Nigeria (32 varieties) and Tanzania (42 varieties). The MVS is an application accessible on the Internet (web-based) and mobile phone (app) designs.