COMESA – The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has partnered mPedigree’s GoldKeys technology to launch an online seed label verification system in the region.

COMESA, which covers 19 countries across South, East and Central Africa, will utilise the pan-African tech start-up system to remove phony seed concerns and improve business in quality and enhanced authorized seed.

Speaking recently at the COMESA secretariat, Selorm Branttie, mPedigree’s global strategy director, said the partnership has presents a great accomplishment towards ending the business of counterfeit seeds in the region.

“This is the first time that seed certificates and verification of the seeds will be done electronically, and the farmer will be able to trace the source of the seed and authenticity of the seed without difficulty,” Branttie revealed.

Fake seeds have greatly contributed to poor performance of 80 million small-holder farmers and food insecurity in the COMESA region.

 “The seed labels and certificates will promote the use of genuine seed and eventual elimination of fake seed from circulation.

ACTESA (Alliance for Commodity Trade in East and Southern Africa) is implementing this programme through the COMESA Seed Harmonisation Implementation Plan (COMSHIP).” Branttie revealed.

“For every seed package that will have a Comesa sticker, it means the source of that seed has been documented and can be tracked by the receiving end.

COMESA will work with the National Seed Authorities to ensure that fake agro-inputs like seeds are eradicated from the market,” said the Director of Industry and Agriculture, Mr Thierry Kalonji.

In Kenya, a member of COMESA, The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) in September 2017 launched a text-based service to protect farmers from fake seeds, powered by mPedigree.

Kephis MD Esther Kimani said the move was aimed at rooting out unscrupulous traders who sell untested seed varieties that perform poorly, causing farmers losses.

“These fake seed sellers have also been the cause of food shortages that make Kenya spend billions of shillings on imports annually. The new security service targets small scale farmers who buy between one and five kilogramme packets of seeds,” Dr Kimani said.

She said a pilot on the new service together with inventors of the text-based security seal service, mPedigree, had yielded positive results, forcing seed sellers to vet packets to avoid being a source of fake seeds.