The new CGIAR Initiative Seed Equal- Delivering Genetic Gains to Farmers Fields is accelerating its engagement with rice sector stakeholders and rice farmers in South Asia with various consultations, visits, and workshops. Organized with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), these activities were conducted by the Seed Equal Work Package 4 team in collaboration with Work Package 1 and Work Package 6 teams from IRRI, in collaboration with premier rice research organizations such as the Indian Institute for Rice Research (IIRR), to share, build, and establish capacity among stakeholders to implement rice-based seed system best practices in a sustainable manner among farmers in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal.
High-quality seeds and improved seed varieties are among the most important inputs farmers can make to enhance crop yield, resilience, and profitability, contributing to regional food and nutrition security. This new global initiative aims to support the seed delivery to farmers of high-quality, climate-resilient, market-preferred, and nutritious varieties of priority crops, while ensuring equitable access for women and other disadvantaged groups. The Initiative promotes improvement in seed systems and value chains as an effective method to distribute genetic gains for yield, reduce adverse environmental stresses and pests and diseases, and support national seed systems.
Activities for South Asia began with a pre-workshop planning session held at the IRRI New Delhi office in May 2022. The purpose of this session was to plan the workshops to be launched in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal, to discuss the aspects of rice seed systems in these countries which need to be addressed. Subsequent meetings and consultations were also held at IRRI offices in Varanasi and Hyderabad, and at the IIRR office, to design the workshops with input from scientists, leaders, seed system actors, farmers, and other stakeholders.
The Seed Equal workshop for India was held in July 2022 in Bhuvaneswar, Odisha State. Invited participants included directors, scientists, teachers, extension officers, and farm leaders from various organizations and universities across India, such as the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), ICAR-NRRI, Krishi Vigyana Kendras, Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwavidyalaya (JNKVV), NDUAI, Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University (PJTSAU), Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRU), Banaras Hindu University (BHU), and Indian agricultural officers, among others. Presenters during the workshop included Dr. Shoba Venkatanagappa, Dr. Swati Nayak, Dr. Vikas Kumar Singh, Dr. Subba Rao, Dr. GK Bhatia, Dr. Kuntal Das, Dr. Mosharaf Hossain, Dr. Nathalie Vignaux, Dr. Ranjitha Puskur, and Mr. Samit Kumar.
During the 2-day workshop, key topics discussed and presented included the following: introduction to Seed Equal, IRRI breeding and variety development, multi-location testing and selections, varietal release systems, market segments, product profiling and management, varietal positioning and seed scaling (formal and informal seed systems), ICT tools, socially equitable seed system models, and farmgate profitability, among others. Participants were given ample opportunities to ask questions and provide feedback and perspectives, contributing to an enlightening and informative engagement.
After the workshop, the Seed Equal team also visited two large rice millers in the state of Odisha and held discussions with leaders of local millers’ associations. The purpose of these visits was to introduce the millers to the new initiative and develop the Seed Equal team’s understanding of the miller’s preferences and requirements when it comes to rice seeds. The team also hoped to develop linkages with the millers as key stakeholders of the seed supply chain, and to make them positive influencers for the farmers who produce the rice seeds.
This 2023, the Seed Equal team plans to scale up its engagement across South Asia with more workshops and activities for the effective implementation of the initiative in the region.