A training program was organized by International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Bangladesh and the Seed Certification Agency (SCA) for private seed companies to help the sector understand the certification process and boost the domestic supply of quality rice seed. Twenty-five participants from Aftab Bahumukhi Farms Ltd., Ispahani Agro Ltd., Metal Agro Ltd., Lal Teer Seed Company Ltd., and Supreme Seed Company Ltd. attended the training program on 18 to 19 July 2022 at the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI).
BRRI Director General Md. Sahjahan Kabi emphasized the role of the private sector in the expansion of quality rice seed market yet their contribution is only around 10% to 11%. We have to find out why to ensure food security for 170 million people, according to Dr. Kabir. He also emphasized the problem of how the country loses 80 kilograms of certified seed for every kilo of foundation seeds due to selling of foundation seeds directly to the rice seed market.
The SCA is the sole authority that determines if the quality of rice seeds produced by the private sector is suitable to be marketed to farmers. From 2014 to 2019, the contribution of the private sector in quality rice seed market was almost stagnant due to limitations in the certifications process and in large, the process is manual with lack of seed testing facilities at district levels. Further delays in the application process and getting the seed sample results from the SCA in Gazipur to the District Seed Certification Office (DSC) slow down private companies’ ability to bring their products to market.
Seed placement in the market, preferably ahead of competitors, will determine a company’s potential sales and income. For the private sector, time is money. In addition to seed quality, the affordability, timeliness of marketing, and availability of the seeds are crucial to the survival of companies. Private seed companies hope for a reduced time between each step and utilize digital technology to automate the application process and speed up response to the applicant company.
Md. Ashraf Ali from IRRI Bangladesh said the activity aimed to bridge the gap between the private sector and SCA to facilitate the marketing and increase the quality of the seeds available to farmers. SCA Director Krishibid Md. Aminul Islam acknowledged IRRI’s effort in developing a platform for private seed companies and the SCA.
The program is part of the USAID-funded FtF Bangladesh IRRI Rice Breeding Public-Private Partnership Platform Activity.