Seed is a fertilized mature ovule that possesses an embryonic plant, stored food material (endosperm) and a protective coat (testa), which is viable and has capacity to germinate. The seed is essential for crop production and it is a more efficient technique to increase the output levels. Seed, as a crucial agricultural input, plays a critical role in creating resilient agricultural sectors and food systems that support food security and nutrition as well as the livelihoods of many farmers.
The implementation of lockdown due to the global pandemic Covid-19 has tangible effects in all sectors of the country including agriculture. The pandemic has the potential to have an adverse impact on seed production, certification, distribution and pricing all of which are critical for developing the agriculture sectors and food systems of many farmers. The rapid breakout of COVID-19 in Nepal since the first case was observed on 23 January 2020, which got increasingly more severe as the number of cases increased, resulting in the installation of lockdown from 24th March 2020 to limit the spread. Lockdown in Nepal resulted in limitations on vehicle mobility, both inside and outside of districts.
Various problems in seed sector during this covid-19 pandemic can be listed as:
- Farmers are not getting the seeds of their own choice due to the restriction on movement of seed from one country to another.
- There is a shortage of seeds because the seeds produced in farmer’s fields are not getting proper access to transport and market.
- The price of transportation has hiked due to the pandemic. Thus the cost of transportation is added to the price of seed making the seeds more expensive to acquire, and not everyone can afford it.
- People are gathering without taking essential health precautions to ask for seeds in this pandemic putting seed producers in difficulty to keep seed banks open, resulting in seed availability being hampered.
- In developing countries like ours, high quality seeds of preferred varieties are least produced and mostly imported. Any blockade in imports can adversely affect the production trend of crops as well. We are compelled to use local seeds without any authentic knowledge on seed quality.
- Less availability and higher transportation costs due to fewer commercial flights, fewer personnel available for production and documentation process and a contraction in the market for plants and seeds are causing problems in terms of seed production for international trade as well as access to high quality seed of modern varieties for domestic agriculture.
Solutions to these problems
- Farmers need to be encouraged to produce seed on their own to avoid the problems of unavailability of seeds.
- Farmers should be trained and provided with appropriate infrastructures and laboratories to produce quality seeds.
- Different seed related organizations should provide certified seeds to the farmers.
- The national level program should be conducted in the seed sectors by the informal system.
- Investment in plant breeding research, seed production sectors, seed trading government initiatives to provide adequate subsidies and enrolling trained manpower.
- The association with international companies should be increased.
- Following National legislation on seed sector by Informal system.