Improving Seed Quality for assuring Food Security during Havoc of Pandemic
Food security is a situation having physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious foods that meets dietary needs and food preference to all people at all time for active and healthy life (FAO, 2002). Lack of access to enough good, healthy, and culturally appropriate food is food insecurity.
At this time of COVID-19 pandemic, where the people globally could face the acute food crisis, the only way for combating the food insecurity is to boost the agricultural production through the improvement of inputs and investment in agriculture. The quality of seeds is an important factor for determining the productivity. Seeds with a high germination percentage, free from disease and disease organism, and with a proper moisture content and weight is considered as quality seed. Quality seeds are the result of good production practices, good growing conditions and appropriate seed processing and storage. Quality seeds insures good germination, rapid emergence and vigorous growth. Seed quality is important for better crop stand and high input efficiency.
This pandemic has shown its early impact on human health, global trade, economy and supply chain. However, the focus on havoc caused by this pandemic has been on its early impacts, it has an utmost effect on the agricultural sector. The institutions like FAO, World Bank are raising alarms about the potential impact on food security, especially in countries like Nepal where food security is tenuous for a large segment of population even in best of times. At the beginning of 2020, 135 million people around the world were already facing extreme hunger. On April, the United Nation has projected that because of COVID- 19 the number of people facing severe food insecurity worldwide could double. In most of developing countries, there is shortage on the key inputs of agriculture such as seeds, fertilizers suggesting that this year’s crops may be delayed or even lost. Furthermore, food grains production is challenged by severe locust outbreak and rapidly spreading fall armyworm infestation in most of countries of Africa and South Asia. This clearly shows that we can expect a serious threat on global food security.
The availability of quality seed supported by other input is important for increasing crop yield and agricultural production and guarantee household food security. The food security and seed security are closely linked, an insecurity in one leads insecurity in other. Increasing the quality of seeds can increase the yield of crops by significant folds and thus, is one of the most efficient and economic inputs to agricultural development. Good quality of seeds helps greatly in higher production per unit area to attain food security. A good quality seed adopts themselves for extreme climatic condition and cropping system of the location and responds well to applied fertilizers and nutrients. A good quality seeds have fast and uniform emergence and is less prone to disease and insect problem. The yield prediction of good quality seed is easier. The timely availability of quality seeds to farmers plays a vital role in increasing the production which can reduce food crisis in the nation. Every farmer should have access to good quality seeds at reasonable prices to ensure good yield and economic benefits. Farmers who have weak access to quality seeds of high yielding varieties may switch to lower yielding, locally available low quality seeds that significantly reduces the production resulting in threat to food security. So, for improving seed quality, there should be advancement in plant breeding to enhance the genetic factors of seed. There should be a proper legal system on seed certification and strict laws and orders must be formulated against the illegal sales and supply of poor quality, uncertified seeds to farmers. Improved seed storing facilities is essential for successful and systemized production of quality seeds.
In today’s scenario, this pandemic is already creating food crisis on different parts of world affecting food systems directly through food supply and demand and we can clearly predict that it has a long term impact on global food security. The outlook of countries where agriculture accounts for greater share of GDP is becoming worse. And now, we can conclude that the only way for combating the food insecurity is improving the agricultural productivity to meet the demand of food. Easy access to good quality of seeds to farmers has a significant role in increasing the productivity and it ensures food security. Thus, producing quality seed is an effective tool to address issues of food security, self-sufficiency and economic development.