Improving seed systems for smallholder farmers’ food security (DADS-II)

Seed systems have a strong influence in shaping agricultural systems, how they contribute to food and nutrition security, and their sustainability. In developing countries, farmers continue to play an important role in generating and conserving crop genetic diversity, and their own harvest continues to be the main source of seed for the majority of the crops signifying the of informal seed system in agricultural sustainability. Despite the decades of incessant efforts and international support promoting and reinforcing the formal seed system globally, it still has a modest coverage in many developing countries and has only partially addressed the gaps in agricultural productivity, food security and environmental sustainability. Local and traditional seed systems continue to manage a wide range of crops and varieties, often better adapted to the local environmental and socioeconomic conditions and reach smallholder farmers in remote, vulnerable areas. 

Despite the tremendous potential, local seed systems are often overlooked in international and national public policies on seed sector development and are at high jeopardy due to drastic environmental changes, population aging, anomalous migration rate, strong effect of international markets and policies on agricultural products and agricultural inputs. In recent years, several initiatives have emerged promoting the development of integrated seed systems in which formal and informal aspects complement each other for the benefit of seed producers and seed consumers. This project embracing five countries (Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Nepal, Uganda and Uzbekistan) frames itself within this growing philosophy for more pluralistic seed systems accentuating the role of variety of stakeholders (policy makers, genebank managers, plant researchers, public agents, research organizations, private companies and farmers' associations) in promoting the use of promising and adaptive famer preferred seeds and focuses on intra specific diversity as a crucial component of these systems. 

The project in Nepal works with a range of stakeholders such as Nepal Agricultural Research Council, the Ministry of Agricultural Development (Agro-biodiversity Section and WTO & Agribusiness Section), the Seed Quality Control Center (SQCC), District Development Offices (DADOs), seed companies, dealers and agro-vets, farmers’ group and cooperatives to a) conduct research to understand the constraints of farmers to access quality seed of varieties they prefer; b) promote the supply of quality seeds of various crop varieties for farmers; c) improve linkages among stakeholders/market actors in the seed value chain so that they can better meet the needs of farmers in relation to seed diversity and quality; d) to help farmers improve seed production, storage and distribution capacities to ensure the accessibility of quality seeds of food security crops; d) participate in the development of a policy framework conducive to the supply of a wide range of varieties.

The project continues to focus on rice and common bean as the target crops, and will also include vegetable species such as brinjal, cucumber and chilli. Bara, Kaski and Jumla continue to be the core intervention districts, with strong connections with other districts where complementary projects are taking place. Dolakha, Lamjung and Humla will be considered as scaling up districts. 

The project interventions aim to increase their capabilities, resources and self-confidence of smallholder farmers individually or as a part of seed producer groups, cooperatives and community seed banks, the primary target beneficiaries so that they can exploit opportunities as crop diversity managers and seed producers and sellers, and in this way improve their lives, and the lives of their families and communities.  In addition, the project seeks to benefit researchers in the area of plant genetic resources and plant breeding by increasing their knowledge about existing diversity of the target crops and the potential of such diversity to contribute to more sustainable agricultural systems, better diets and improved livelihoods. The project will also ensure better understanding of local seed systems and of their potential to contribute to agricultural development, and a closer connection to actors involved in these systems among technician and decision makers at various governmental levels, from the community to district, national and international level rendering in better informed policies and programmes. They will also be supported for the implementation of current policies, which consequently will facilitate their responsibilities as public administrators. Finally, the project will enhance seed enterprises’ and dealers’ business opportunities by exposing them to local varieties with promising characteristics and to the farmer groups who can guarantee sustainable production of these materials. Indirect beneficiaries of the project will be farmers who will gain access to quality seed, of better quality and better adapted to environmental conditions and market preferences. 


Project Details
Countries: Nepal
Working districts: Bara, Kaski, Jumla, Dolakha, Lamjung, Humla
Project Duration: 2017 - 2022
Partners: Bioversity International, National Agricultural Genetic Resources Centre
Funded by: Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation
Contact Person: Niranjan Pudasaini