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Sundar seed cooperative: A key institution for technology transformation in western mid hills of Nepal

posted Oct 14, 2014, 12:06 AM by   [ updated Oct 19, 2014, 5:22 AM ]

Bishnu Bilas Adhikari, Ph.D.

IFAD TAG 706A, a successful IRRI-guided collaborative project,  has gained success to establish seed organizations in western mid hills of Nepal from 2005 to 2008. The project helped form Sundar Seed Producer Group (SPG) and Pragati SPG which were the first established seed producer groups of Lamjung and Tanahun districts, respectively. 

The collaboration between International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science (IAAS), Lamjung has conducted collaborative project work on quality seed production in the western mid hills of Nepal. The seed program helped produce quality rice seed needed by local farmers, which has received regional recognition in the country. During the IFAD TAG-706 period (2005 and 2006), farmers were demanded to have the seed of best rice varieties verified during preference ranking in PVS plots. The project team has realized the need for quality seeds to meet farmers' demands. The project initiated the community-based seed production program (CBSP) and formed “Sundar Seed Producer Group” (Sundar means modal in Nepali) at Sundarbazar, Lamjung in 2007. Sundar seed producer group is upgraded to Sundar Seed Cooperative in 2009. The coop members received trainings and physical support for quality seed production. Because of this, quality rice seed supplying is increased across of region. After completion of IFAD-TAG 706, Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) funded by Bills and Milinda Gates Fundation (BMGF) was launched from 2008 to 2010 in the same villages (Sundarbazar, Purkot, and Bhanu villages) also continued the seed programs through SPGs.

 The Consortium for Unfavourable Rice Environment (CURE) project funded by IFAD (2010-2013) also continued the seed activities. Validation, upscaling, and recommendation of new varieties have continued through different projects since 2005. While production, collection, storage and distribution of seed of recommended varieties has been continued since the establishment of Sundar SPG.

Sundar coop has to increase the productivity of rice in western mid-hill regions. At first, the local government body (Sundarbazar Village Development Committee) convinced the importance of quality seed to increase the production, productivity and livelihood of farming communities and decided to provide 0.25 ha area of land for construction of building for seed coop. Sundar coop got the land for free and constructed a seed stored with four rooms. As government support, Sundar coop received about NRS 110000 (equivalent to 11500 US$) to construct the seed building from Department of Agriculture (Crop Development Directorate) in 2008 and 2012. In addition to this fund, the Crop Development Directorate also provided seed implements like moisture meter, seed grading machine, weighing machines, sewing machines, seed dressing drums, sprayers, seed bags etc. In 2014, Sundar coop received success to get a project of about NRS. 3300000.0 (equivalent to 35000 US$) from the government initiative Project for Agriculture Commercialization and Trade (PACT) to complete the building, threshing floor, and purchasing of seed tools and equipment in the cooperative. 

This cooperative is a single-seed cooperative for conducting systematic seed production and distribution in western mid hills regions of Nepal. It is a leading organization with some feeder seed groups in three districts (Lamjung, Tanahun and Gorkha). After the establishment of the seed coop, farmers are able to get quality seed locally and cheaply. Farmers reported that from the use of quality seed and production technology, there is about 40-50 percent increase in rice yield. This coop received success and covered more than 95% rice area in Lamjung from its own varieties (up to 1000m asl). CURE and STRASA have given priority not only to produce quality seed but also to market quality seed to other districts. The seed network in the region is focused mainly on marketing. Sundar coop is also involved in the government seed program District Seed Self-Sufficiency Program (DISSPRO) and got some facilities from the program. “Within 7 years of its establishment, each and every farm family in Lamjung (up to 1000 m als) are able to get the seed from this coop while the majority of farmers of Tanahun and Gorkha district are getting seed in each year,” said Chandra Prasad Pokharel (President of Sundar coop). Also, Mr. Pokhrel said that “Farmers are very happy from the support of Sundar seed cooperative and break the tradition of keeping seed in their own home which means Seed Replacement Rate (SRR) is increasing annually."

Furthermore, Mr. Pokharel said that they still experience quality source seed shortage (foundation seed), training in quality seed production to all farmers, seed business skills, seed rules and regulation, and creation of linkages between the farmers and government agricultural research stations and extension services.