Seed, fertilizer, and irrigation are the major inputs that drive improvements in agricultural productivity.  But we all have known that world wide pandemic COVID-19 has got potential not only to cause downfall of health sector or economy but also seed sector on the developing country like Nepal .  for  an agricultural country like ours with only 20 private seed company with covers 27% of the total country seed production  it have seriously  affected  the production certification, distribution, and cost of seeds which play a pivotal role in agricultural sector.

How downfall of Nepalese seed sector in worldwide pandemic started?

The preparation of seeds for kharif crops happens between march and may . It begins from farmers field where flowering pollination etc are monitored by team and after harvest drying and section, the seed are send to processing plants  . From there they are sends to  labs for testing and finally packaged for supply which  is a time consuming process.  Due to pandemic of corona started in December , the seed production  in Nepal is  halted by the start of lockdown from the beginning of march  . The compete seed production ecosystem is complex and require help of allied sector such as transport testing labs and packaging industry which are closed due to havoc .   Seed hubs and production facilities are under pressure to shut and laborer and village level henchman are using this opportunity to make unreasonable demands    the seeds produced in the farmer’s field are not getting proper access to transport and dissemination, if any, they are being blocked and kept for inspection which is only causing further delay.

What are the problems faced by seed sector in Nepal?

There  are many problems faced by the seed after the havoc. Before covid-19 hit the world, the problems encountered in the seed sectors were lack of promotion and advertising campaigns, lack of research, and varieties development. But after  the start of the havoc Neither governmental nor private sectors were on run during the complete lockdown. With minimal facilities of movement, the operations on the seed sector were almost equaled to null.   Implications of no-transportation have resulted in the return of workers to their hometown, causing less number of workers ranging from field workers to technicians in seed production. This has undertaken almost no production of seeds from private sectors.   Also, the import of seeds from international donors has not been possible due to restrictions on an international flight. .   Due to the lack of logistic support and technical manpower in NARC, there is no consistency in the production of Breeder Seeds.  The obstruction of vehicles results in inadequate market support causing weak input relationships.  The  main problems to be considered during this scarcity is a volatile market, where the price fluctuation was common during the beginning of COVID-19 cases in Nepal.   The price of transportation has hiked after the pandemic struck, so the cost of transportation is added to the seed’s price making the seeds more expensive to purchase and not everyone can afford it.

What are the solutions to the problems seen in seed  sector during this critical time?

Face to face contact  during the sales should be avoided and serving customers individually should be done.   emphasizing hygiene and encouraging work from home measures where possible to avoid transmission to poor . Similarly there should be the digitalization of seed sector. At present, the Seed Quality Control Center (SQCC), Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC), the Centre for Crop Development and Agro Bio-diversity Conservation (CCDABC) and the Vegetable Development Directorate (VDD) are using paper-based data collection systems to record and plan seed production every year. Increase in association play an important role this crucial time as seed production companies were halted for almost 8 months. The genetic factors of seed should also be enhanced.

The public sector’s share of seed production is relatively high for wheat (for example, through the National Seed Company), whereas the community sector’s shares are higher for rice and maize. The private sector’s shares are moderate for wheat, rice, and maize, but are very high for vegetable crops.   Hence many problem are faced by seed sector during this time which resulted  the downfall of seed sector.

About the Author:
Dilina Nepal; B.Sc. Ag
Lamjung Campus
Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science

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