Overview of seed sector in nepal with mitigating measures amid Covid-19 pandemic

A seed is a fertilized mature ovule with an embryonic part, stored food material (endosperm), and a protective coat (testa), which is viable and has the capacity to germinate. As a key agricultural input, seeds play a fundamental role in developing the resilient agricultural sectors and food systems that underpin food security and nutrition, and support the livelihoods of farmers and other actors in the value chain.

Agricultural sector is time sensitive, with defined periods for sowing and harvesting different crops.. Agricultural sector has also been largely affected by the outbreak of noble virus specially affecting the seed sector on which whole life of agriculture is dependent.As such, the necessary restrictions on movement and transport put in place by government to protect the people from COVID-19 have the potential to seriously affect the production, certification, distribution and cost of seed.
The strategies followed to combat the spread of COVID-19 are hampering the accessibility and availability of seeds at a crucial time of the year for many countries. The farm economy faced a severe hit when lockdown halted transportation, thereby stagnating the harvest. With minimal facility of movement of foods, the operation on seed sector was almost null which resulted into almost no production of seeds from private sectors. Also the import of seeds from international donor hasn’t been possible due to closed borders with neighboring countries and restrictions on international flights. The farmers here have not been able to carry out farming activities with the extension of the lockdown for months. They are facing problem preparing the fields for cultivation as the supply of fertilisers, seeds and agricultural implements has been disrupted due to the lockdown. The agrovet centres has been closed, transportation of agricultural inputs has been stopped and other farming activities have been disrupted due to the stay-home order since the local administration has not included the agrovets under the essential services during the lockdown. And even after the end of lockdown in many parts of the country , seeds, fertilizers and many other agricultural inputs has not been accessible and some farmer having an access are not being able to afford it because of the increased price. Seed supply chain has been disrupted badly with very minimal workers around this sector, right now.

And the options that we are left with, during such scenario is the use of source seeds produced by farmers. They were compelled to use illegally imported seeds which weren’t authentic which couldn’t give proper yield. Only quality seeds ensures good crop stand because of its high genetic and physiological qualities. And one of the main problem to be considered during the scarcity is volatile market, where the price fluctuations was a common during the beginning of COVID-19 cases of Nepal. Farmers are ready to work but struggling to access seeds and fertilizers
Ever since Nepal has started importing the hybrid seeds farmers are giving less importance to the local varieties seeds due to which much local seed has disappeared. When the genetic variability is found more in local seeds than that of imported hybrid seeds. So, it is necessary to encourage the farmers to preserve the local seeds too while giving priority to imported hybrid seeds.
Though there are many drawbacks of this pandemic in the seed sector it can be shot out if all the concerned bodies make effective plans

The strategies followed to combat the spread of COVID-19 are hampering the accessibility and availability of seeds at a crucial time of the year for many countries. So, an assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on farming is urgently needed in Nepal to explain potential food crisis and propose solutions

•To help cope with the COVID-19 disruptions, a one-size-fits-all relief package would not be effective for farming communities living in different domains. Major support should be on facilitating transport and distribution of seed and fertilizers, access to food supplies through the local government’s schemes, and provision of soft loans.
•Agro vets have an important contribution as the last mile service providers and they were hit hard by the lockdown. Therefore, facilitating agrovet businesses to operate and transport seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides from suppliers to agrovet business points will be essential to restore businesses and deliver agri-inputs to farmers
•The relief fund should be allocated to essential sectors like seed sector. The relief packages should be more focused on resource poor farmers
•The seed companies should use their digital platforms to facilitate the sales of seeds and related products online, while also devising promotions and incentives to stimulate sales.
•Furthermore, the government should promote the use of local and improved seeds. If provinces can ensure marketing by investing in seed production, the curreseed dependency on imports would be reduced.
• The government needs to make inputs available as close to the farmers as possible through local government dissemination directly or through local cooperatives
•The government should focus on the use of local resources for the seed production beacuse local seeds ensures good crop stand because of its high genetic and physiological qualities
•The stakeholders should co-ordinate with the government officials for the processing and mobilization of the seeds following the lockdown protocol.
• Enhancing the Genetic Factors of Seeds through Breeding, providing Seeds on Kit box as Relief Package, Increasing Seed Storing Facilities, Introduction of Sanitary measures in Agriculture, Usage of micro-climatic condition in integration with workshops training are some of the possible measure to achieve seed security.

BSC AG 4th semester

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