CGIAR & IRRI’s Seed Equal Initiative Expanding Engagement with Rice Sector Stakeholders in South Asia
The CGIAR Initiative “Seed Equal- Delivering Genetic Gains to Farmers Fields” is stepping up its engagement with South Asian rice sector stakeholders and rice farmers through a variety of consultations, visits, and workshops.
Various activities were organized in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and carried out by the Seed Equal Work Package 4 team in collaboration with the IRRI Work Package 1 and Work Package 6 teams, as well as 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.
High-quality seeds and improved seed varieties are two of the most important inputs farmers can use to boost crop yield, resilience, and profitability, thereby contributing to regional food and nutrition security. This new global initiative aims to assist farmers in receiving high-quality, climate-resilient, market-preferred, and nutritious varieties of priority crops, while also ensuring equitable access for women and other disadvantaged groups.
The Initiative promotes seed system and value chain improvement as an effective method of disseminating genetic gains for yield, reducing adverse environmental stresses, pests & diseases, and supporting national seed systems. South Asia activities began in May 2022 with a pre-workshop planning session at the IRRI New Delhi office.
The goal of this session was to plan the workshops that would be held in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal to discuss the aspects of rice seed systems that needed to be addressed in these countries. Following meetings and consultations at the IRRI offices in Varanasi and Hyderabad, as well as at the IIRR office, the workshops were designed with input from scientists, leaders, seed system actors, farmers, and other stakeholders.
In July 2022, the Seed Equal workshop for India was held in Bhuvaneswar, Odisha State. Directors, scientists, teachers, extension officers, and farm leaders from various organisations and universities across India were invited to participate, including 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. Rang 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 Samit Kumar were among those who spoke at the workshop. Key topics discussed and presented during the two-day workshop included, among other things, an 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.
Participants were given numerous opportunities to ask questions and provide feedback and perspectives, resulting in an enlightening and informative interaction. Following the workshop, the Seed Equal team visited two large rice mills in Odisha and met with leaders of local millers’ associations.
These visits aimed to introduce millers to the new initiative and help the Seed Equal team understand miller preferences and requirements for rice seeds. The team also hoped to establish relationships with millers, who are key stakeholders in the seed supply chain and to make them positive influencers for the farmers who grow rice seeds. The Seed Equal team intends to expand its engagement across South Asia in 2023 with additional workshops and activities to ensure the initiative’s effective implementation in the region.