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Maize Variety Selector (MVS)

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 couldn’t make their variety choice. Harvesting at the right time is important for both the quantity and quality of the maize harvested. It was challenging to estimate the timing of different growth stages, such as flowering and maturity dates. In addition, maize varieties’ characteristics wereoften unknown to farmers and service providers. Such lack of information made 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 provided:

  • 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
  • A 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 facilitated linkages between different actors in the maize value chain for optimum production and profit. The MVS targeted the following types of user:

  • Farmers – were the ultimate beneficiaries as MVS helped them to identify the best variety for their specific location, desired growth period and planting date. MVS provided information on variety characteristics.
  • Extension workers – MVS helped extension workers to deliver effective services to farmers by using the tool for decision making. Next to providing variety specific information, the tool used as ‘pocket library’ and source information to extension workers.
  • Agro-dealers – With its capacity to link variety preferences to seed outlets, MVS linked farmers, extension workers, and agro-dealers, therefore enabled maize value chain integration. The tool helped 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 were derived from the analysis of either multi-location trial data or calibration experiments across a temperature gradient. There were four country-based versions of MVS, namely Ethiopia (20 varieties), Kenya (22 varieties), Nigeria (32 varieties) and Tanzania (42 varieties).

For further information, please refer to the document: “Spatial predictions of maize phenology: workflows and potential decision support applications” 

5- Code and software resources