Small Seeds, Big Impact: The wheat season in Nepal kicked off with certified seed production training

Author: Mansi Naithani
Thursday, December 14, 2017

BHAIRAHAWA, NEPAL: Farmers in Chitwan, the densely cultivated wheat-producing belt of Nepal, are gearing up for the 2017-18 wheat sowing season with the help of the Delivering Genetic Gain in Wheat (DGGW) Innovative Seed Systems program. Winter in Nepal is the time when public and private seed players focus on closing sales orders and distributing seed. Farmers rush to manage their paddy harvesting so they can sow wheat in late November and early December. Extension trainers are holding farmer meetings and focusing on timely sowing. When fully implemented, all activities will result in delivery of a second season of high quality, certified wheat seeds in April-May 2018.

“Training of Extension Professionals on Certified Wheat Seed Production Practices,” conducted on November 8 at the Bhairahawa Research Station of the National Agricultural Research Council (NARC), was one of the first activities. There, 29 extension professionals representing the National Seed Company (NSC) (a public sector seed company), the Universal Seed Company (a progressive private seed company) and Agriculture and Forest University (AFU), were trained in wheat seed production.

“Our extension team is eager to learn more about certified wheat seed production practices. Experiential learning is the only way for us to help wheat growers produce better seeds every year in the country,” said Birender Yadav, field inspector for the Universal Seed Company.

The major challenges faced by the wheat seed sector in Nepal, which results in low productivity, include a low seed replacement rate (SRR) in wheat due to the prevalent practice of using farmer-saved seeds, and the low technical know-how of farmers on crop handling and agronomic practices

DGGW designed the train-the-trainer module so that extension professionals — once trained — can provide extension support to wheat seed farmers to help them produce quality certified wheat seeds. In this way, extension professionals can better address the existing extension gap in wheat seed production in the Chitwan region. NARC, with continual support to the Agriculture and Forestry University of Nepal (AFU), played a leading role in developing the training modules for the wheat seed growers.

The training focused on: Varietal characteristics of major wheat varieties (agronomic characteristics of the old and newly released wheat varieties); certified wheat seed production methods (field preparation, time of seeding, isolation distance, seed rate, fertilizer doses, irrigation stages, rouging and harvesting); wheat seed certification system in the country (understanding key field and seed standards in Nepal); and plant protection measures for weeds, diseases and pests during the wheat crop cycle.

Trainers included Deepak Pandey, Nootan Raj Gautam, Mathura Yadav, SRK Gupt and Vinetaa Sharma from NARC, and Mohan Khatiwada from the Regional Seed Testing Laboratory (RSTL, Nepal). Faculty included senior wheat scientists, wheat breeders, seed certification officers and experts in wheat agronomy, entomology and plant pathology.

“There has been a significant value addition to my prior knowledge of wheat seed production,” said Birender Yadav, field inspector with Universal Seeds in Nepal, “The training has already improved the quality of both extension professionals and wheat seed because quality training to extension staff means quality training of farmers which assures the quality of seeds. I look forward to attending many more such trainings under DGGW every season.”

In order to build robust seed systems to produce certified quality wheat seeds in Nepal, extension professionals are trained to be the change-makers to be able to train and support wheat seed farmers of the region in certified quality wheat seed production. AFU, as the key driver of the DGGW’s Innovative Seed Systems Project, trained 10 of its own team members under the DGGW training. From December 2017 to April 2018, these trained members will play an active role in disseminating the package of practices and extension support to about 200 farmers of the Rampur region involved in producing certified wheat seeds for AFU.

“I will be better in my extension approach and dissemination when I go and train wheat seed farmers under AFU this year,” said Suraj Singh Karkee, Seed Technician with AFU. “The training has increased my understanding and subjective knowledge on wheat seed quality maintenance and improvement.”

NARC, with its leading resource of wheat experts, will support AFU in providing a full season of technical support to the wheat seed growers. AFU’s in-house seed processing facility which was installed in January 2017 under the DGGW project, will process and pack the certified wheat seeds to sell through the National Seed Company this year and, eventually, under its own brand of seeds in the near future.

Training participants during a session by Dr. Nooan Raj Gautam, senior wheat breeder from NARC on Varietal and agronomic characteristics of major wheat varieties grown in Nepal

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