Seed Co Limited, a major breeder and processor of hybrid crops in Africa, is a long-standing client of the IBP, having adopted the BMS in 2013. The company develops and markets certified seed for a range of crops including hybrid maize, cotton, wheat, soyabean, barley, sorghum, groundnut and potato. The company – the largest seed producer in Africa - is growing its market share on the continent and exploring new crops.
The company adopted the BMS Pro version in response to a dramatic increase in data; organising and managing data is the lifeblood for a company dependent on germplasm information. The company recognised that it needed to build technical capacity and develop and implement best practice across its expanding portfolio of crops.
Seeing data differently
“The centralisation of our data base has been the biggest impact of using the BMS for us,” notes Dr. Elliot Tembo, Group Breeding Systems Lead at Seed Co Limited in Zimbabwe.
“Before we centralised our database everyone was working on excel sheets or pieces of paper such that accessing information was difficult if not impossible following disruptive events like the death or resignation of a staff member.”
Dr. Tembo recalls that the company used to record data in field books and then manually organise it, but for the past three years field data collection has been electronic (tablets) and then fed directly into the BMS. He has been particularly impressed with the BMS Pedigree Tree tool that has greatly enhanced the ability of breeders to understand and manage germplasm.
“Overall we have achieved our objectives because what is important for us is germplasm knowledge and security,” Dr. Tembo said. “The BMS has enabled the centralisation of our programs in a database on a server at our company headquarters and it mitigates the impact of losing staff and data.”
“We now see data differently; for example, the BMS Head-to-Head Analysis query tool is used to track the performance of new varieties over time.”
Dr. Tembo confirms the benefit of using the BMS in reducing data capture time by more than 90% while the centralisation of data has facilitated the characterisation of crop lines whose data is on the shared platform in the BMS, thus allowing easier access to that information by breeders and agronomists. The duplication of crosses is now avoided Dr. Tembo commented. Furthermore, data quality has been enhanced and decision-making improved.
“The benefits of compatibility with peripherals, e.g. for data capture, cannot be over emphasised, Dr. Tembo explained. “The BMS has led us to use more peripheral devices and to improve our processes”. At the management level, the BMS Dashboard tool has helped SeedCo to manage its programs more successfully because it is user friendly and offers a range of query and metric functions.
Since the adoption of the BMS, Dr. Tembo points to a very significant saving in staff time. Now, one technician is needed for electronic data capture where previously four technicians and four staff captured and verified data manually. Similarly, in addition to data accuracy, the timeliness of data capture and processing enables off-season plantings that were previously not possible.
The gains in the quality, integrity and security of data across tens of thousands of trials translate to savings of several thousand dollars in time and labour in addition to expedited decision-making.
“The future of Seed Co is bright”, adds Dr. Tembo, describing the deployment of the BMS as a “big step in the right direction of modernising a breeding programme and building security around germplasm.”