Maize (Zea mays) is the major traditional cereal crop in the rain-fed ecosystem of the hills and mountain which covers about 81% (mountain- 10.45% and hill- 70.23%) of the total cultivated area (MoAC, 2009).
Among cereals, it contributes about 26.8% of the total food requirement with a vital role in the livelihood of the people living in the hills and mountains of the country. It is cultivated as food, feed and fodder on sloping bari land (rainfed upland) in the hills. Maize is grown under rainfed conditions during the summer (April-August) as a single crop or relayed with millet later in the season. In the terai, inner-terai, valleys, and low-lying river basin areas, maize is also grown in the winter and spring with irrigation.
More than two third of the maize produced in the mid hills and high hills is used for direct human consumption at the farm level. The ratio of human consumption to total production is higher in less accessible areas. In terai, less than 50% of the maize is used for human consumption and a major part of the production goes to the market (Paudyal et al, 2001). Maize contributes about 6.88 % of the total agricultural GDP supplied to the nation (MoAC, 2008).
District seed self-sufficiency program (DISSPRO):-
DISSPRO for the first time was envisaged in the Ninth Five Year Plan (1998/99 to 2001/03). Basic underlying principle of DISSPRO is to encourage and strengthen local level seed production and marketing to meet local and district level seed demand and, develop small scale seed entrepreneurship and facilitate the development of huge seed market in future; create awareness about the quality seed among the farmers; disseminate and multiply newly released varieties. Technology dissemination programs including training, 25 % subsidy in the source seed, provision of seed fund and seed revolving fund of rupees five thousand to sixty thousands, respectively for each group and provision of two hundred rupees per ha for control of insect pests are major support programs. Formation and strengthening of farmers’ groups to produce quality seed of desired varieties and in required quantity is a major policy strategy of DISSPRO. To assure supply of source seed as per of the demand for which a seed balance sheet is prepared each year. It is becoming a very effective approach for seed sufficiency at local level. For the last two years, CDD is implementing a more intensive package of support for the commercial scale seed production in different 13 districts (11 terai and 2 hill) in 500 ha of area. This support package includes revolving funds upto sixty thousand rupees, seed processing and seed structure each upto fifty thousand rupees per group of farmer /cooperatives.
Implementation status of DISSPRO:-
Sixty three districts in hills and terai in Nepal adopted DISPRO program by utilizing available funds in the districts and central supports (technical and financial) from Crop Development Directorate. Annual seed production under DISPRO program on cereals, pulses and oilseed increased to 4000 mt in 2009 (CDD 2009). Above figure of seed production was obtained from 28 districts out of 63 districts where DISPRO was launched.
Lesson learned from a decade long DISSPRO:-
In 1999, Hill Maize Research Program (HMRP)/ CIMMYT for the first time worked with the DOA/CDD to improve food security through increased maize production in the four hills and mountain districts of Nepal. In the second phase (year 2004-2008) the number of districts was increased to 11 for the same program by HMRP. After successful completion of the first and second phases, the third phase of this project (2008 to 2010) has been implemented emphasizing the technology transfer to the poor and socio-economically disadvantaged communities in the hills and mountains in Nepal (NMRP 2008). CDD in collaboration with hill maize research program (HMRP/CIMMYT) and some non-governmental agencies are executing community based seed production (CBSP) programs in maize in 25 hill and mountain districts. Participatory varieties selection and participatory technology development (PTD) using the mother/ baby trial concept under CBSP are major technical interventions.
In 2007, 105 mt of maize seed was produced from 11 districts while for the year 2008, it was 243.
mt from 150 ha area and in 2009, it was 427.5 m from 231 ha from 25 districts (CDD, 2009a).
Lesson learned from CBSP:-
• Despite four decades of endeavor towards maize production improvement the progresses are insignificant. The national annual seed replacement rate (SRR) for maize is only 5.98 % and the national average productivity is 2205 Kg//ha. The seed supply from the public sector for maize is less than 1% and adoption of the improved maize varieties is very low. DISSPRO was designed to transfer seed production technologies thereby producing quality seeds and marketing at the community level. CBSP works as that of DISSPRO and it could be regarded as a modified and improved version of DISSPRO. The main beauty of this approach is that it is cost effective, has good community participation and empower the disadvantaged groups. PVS has been proved as an important approach and tool for variety selection (technology development) and technology verification. So integration of all these approaches could be the most effective for participatory technology development, verification and dissemination of sustainable seed production and marketing at community level.
(writer- Pradip Gurung is currently studying Bsc Agriculture at paklihawa campus under TU in 4th semester )