A training workshop on farmer’s variety registration process

Varietal registration is the fundamental step to enable legal pathways for seed value chain development and commercialization of particular crop variety. In order to promote access to high quality seeds of local varieties in the formal seed system, Seed Quality Control Center (SQCC) of the Government of Nepal has relaxed some provisions for local variety registration in the Seed Regulation (2013). 

But due to inadequate information flow about the relaxed provisions of varietal registration to the grassroots level, lack of procedural clarity and practical orientations to the farmers and farmer’s institutions, farmers are still unable to approach varietal registration process by themselves. There are many farmer’s institution including Community Seed Banks (CSBs) in Nepal which are continuously conserving as well as doing seed business of modern and local varieties. These institutions are eligible and interested to register their local varieties if technical guidance and backstopping support is provided. 

Hence, a training workshop on “local variety registration process” was jointly organized by LI-BIRD and Crop Development and Agro-biodiversity Conservation Center (CDABCC) of the Department of Agriculture from 9 to 11June 2019 in Pokhara, Kaski. The training workshop was also supported by the SDC supported Seed System Project implemented by Bioversity International, LI-BIRD and NARC. The major objectives of the workshop were to sensitize farmers, development workers and government’s officials about global to national level seed related policies and build capacity of farmers to develop varietal registration proposals under “Schedule D” provision of the Seed Regulation (2013) of Nepal. 

The orientation sessions were facilitated by resource persons from SQCC, CDABCC, National Genebank, Bioversity International and LI-BIRD. Workshop was primarily targeted to farmers who are managing CSB and are actively involved in local crop conservation and promotion. Participants also invited from other concerned entities such as NARC’s regional agriculture research stations, provincial seed labs and agriculture knowledge centers (AKC) including front line technical staff of LI-BIRD involved in the implementing Seed System and GEF/UNEP Local Crop Projects.  In total, 29 participants attended the training workshop including 8 women. 

Workshop was inaugurated by the chief guest Mr. Surya Poudel, Director General of Department of Agriculture of the Federal Government. Mr. Poudel in his opening remarks, admired the collective effort exerted by multiple stakeholders to promote local varieties in formal seed system. 

On the first day of the workshop, Ms. Sabnam Shiwakoti, chief of CDABCC shared government initiatives of local crop conservation and promotion. She highlighted strategies and provisions made for local crop diversity promotion and ground level efforts. She highlighted the importance of collaboration among all concerned stakeholders and farmers organizations as a key to promote local crops.  

Photo 1:  Chief of National Genebank taking technical session during the workshop 

Similarly, chief of national gene bank Dr. KK Mishra highlighted the role of national gene bank on conservation and promotion of local varieties. He also expressed the genebank’s commitment to support farmers on local variety registration process by providing technical support and backstopping wherever possible.  

Mr. Pitambar Shrestha, Programme Operations Director, LI-BIRD shared experiences and success cases of farmer’s variety research and development carried out by LI-BIRD. He emphasized the scope of CSBs on variety registration and source seed maintenance process. He also highlighted the need for capacity building of farmer’s organizations on seed value chain to better utilize the relaxed registration provision for local varieties. 

Mr. Ramesh Humagain, Senior Crop Development Officer from SQCC facilitated remaining sessions as the key resource person. Starting from legal procedures and provisions of seed quality control and governance system, he briefly described varietal release, registration and seed maintenance provisions. Considering the schedule D, Mr. Humagain explained the step by step procedures of variety registration and proposal development process.  Some technical sessions were also facilitated by LI-BIRD technical staff. 

Last but not the least, Dr. Devendra Gauchan from Bioversity International, Nepal Office took a brief session on international conventions and treaty regarding agrobiodiversity conservation, farmers’ rights and access benefit sharing mechanism.   

The workshop participants especially farmers and the project team members were requested to come with phenotypic, agronomic and historical information of the particular variety identified for the registration. Since the participating farmers and LI-BIRD staff were involved in establishing diversity block and recording data, the group work for drafting the proposal became much easier. 

During the workshop, four new proposals of local varieties namely Tilki rice of Dang, Seto Bhtamas (Soybean) of Doti,  Madale Kankro (Cucumber) of  Kaski and Kariyakamod rice of  Bara district were drafted. Similarly, six already drafted varietal proposals namely Pahenlo and Khairo Simi (Beans) of Dolakha, Bariyo Kaguno (Foxtail Millet) of Lamjung, Rato Kodo (Finger Millet) and Rato Latte (Amaranths) of Jumla and Dudhe Chino (Proso Millet) of Humla district were reviewed and refined. A team of experts reviewed draft proposals right on the workshop and provided their feedback and comments for the further refinement.

Photo 2: Participants working in group during the workshop  

Altogether, ten local variety registration proposals were processed during the workshop.  It was agreed to submit these proposals as a joint initiative of farmer’s institutions, LI-BIRD, National Genebank and CDABCC. It was agreed in the workshop that LI-BIRD will provide technical backstopping with necessary follow-up with farmer’s institutions to facilitate the registration process. The workshop was very effective on utilizing available data and information in Schedule D proposal’s format.    

Additional to core objectives of the workshop, rapport building among key stakeholders, farmer’s exposure and team building were added benefits of the workshop. It helped to create an enabling working environment among the stakeholders for the registration of farmer’s variety in the national seed system. Similar kind of events are recommended to bring various policy/provisions in to action.