Problems to the seed sectors and its solution in the present scenario of COVID-19
Nepalese economy is dependent on agriculture. About 66% of total population of our country depends upon agriculture for their livelihood. Quality seed is a basic input and primary requisite for successful crop production.
Seeds hold the key to success of our endeavors in boosting the agriculture production. All other inputs like fertilizer, irrigation, pesticides, insecticides will be used if seed germinate. It has been found that use of quality seed increased the productivity of crops by 10 to 30% thus quality seed plays a vital role in maintaining food security and self-sufficiency. The improved seed can erase the “begging bowl” image of the country. Due to the pandemic COVID-19, whole country went to lockdown for 6 month which has affected the seed sector (seed production, certification, distribution). As there was already problem in seed sector before COVID-19, now this pandemic further add problem on it.
Problem related to seed sector are as follow:
a) Farmers are not timely access to quality seed due to unavailability of improved varieties, lack of information about the variety, weak planning and supply management by seed sector.
b) Other agricultural inputs like fertilizer, pesticides, insectides, etc. are not available at time, even they are available to farmers, they cost higher price.
c) Our country imports large number of seed from other country, due to this pandemic international flight has been restricted and the option that we are left is use of source seed produced by farmer in neighborhoods without any authentic knowledge on seed quality which create problems in seed germination, low crop establishment, disease problem and finally low yield.
d) There is lack of coordination between government sectors for effective production, management and marketing of seed at various levels.
e) Seed lot travels through various places for multiplication, production, processing and packaging should be done before it reaches to farmer. Due to COVID-19 here is restriction on movement and transportation which delays the crop distribution. Due to this farmer are not able to get certified seed and other agriculture goods.
f) Seed production activities still receive lower priority as compare to food production and due to lack of awareness the demand of quality seed volume is very low. Mechanical damage of seed occurs during harvesting, threshing due to lack of improved tools and equipment like threshers, seed cleaners, seed Sheller etc. available for quality seed production program.
Considering the present pandemic situation, the following solution can be put into action:
a) Good coordination should be maintained between government sectors for production and distribution of quality seed to farmer. A clear strategy should be formed in order to plan programs and projects in the seed sectors.
b) Trained manpower should be employed in every municipality for monitoring seed related problems and immediate action should be taken. Farmer must be aware about the quality of seed variety.
c) Seed production inputs like fertilizer, pesticides should be easily available to the farmers in time.
d) Use of improved tools and equipment like threshers, seed cleaners, seed Sheller etc. which maintain physical purity of seed.
e) Establishing and promoting community seed banks is one of best option to enhance access to diverse adapted varieties to local communities by strengthening the local seed system.
f) Proper seed storage facilities should be maintained at various levels and farmers should be trained enough to store seeds at local levels.
g) Strengthen the capacity of national seed research institute like NARC to develop new, cost reducing variety and technology.
h) Only certified and quality seeds should be allocated in seed agencies and agrovets. In case of selling uncertified seed, strict action should be taken to the shopkeeper.
I) Minimum support price policy should be effectively applied and enough subsidies should be provided to the farmers. Farmer should be aware about the price, varieties and productivity of seed before purchasing it. They must be encouraged to store seed at local level by providing various seed storing techniques.