By: Pradip Thapa
Varietal registration is the fundamental step to enable legal pathways for commercialization of a particular crop variety. Seed Regulation (2013) of Nepal has a dedicated provision (Annex 2-Schedule D) to register local crop landrace, commonly known as a “Relaxed Provision” for varietal registration. According to this provision, registration proposal can be developed by a farmer/farmer’s organization by compiling single season agronomic data from the farmer’s field and submit to variety release and registration sub-committee (VRRSC) of the National Seed Board for registration process. Proposed farmer variety registration proposal (Schedule D) format has been designed in very simpler format so that farmers can approach the process independently. Though the higher level ambience of farmer’s variety registration has become more favorable, ground level realities are far behind. Farmers or field level officials do not have enough knowledge and understanding about Schedule D provision and technical capacity to compile information in a systematic manner. Very little effort has been made by the concerned agencies to bring this relaxed provision widespread and in practice. However, recently with the efforts of the project team, six landraces of five different traditional crop species of the mountain region supported by the Local Crop Project (UNEP GEF) are approved by the national seed board and recommended for the registration in March 2021 under schedule D provision setting a milestone.
In order to address these gaps and replicate exemplary achievement, a training workshop was organized on 3rd-5th April, 2021 at Kawasoti-14, Agyauli, Nawalpur jointly by National Genetic Resources Centre (NAGRC) of NARC, LI-BIRD and the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT with the funding support of SDC Seed System Project “Improving seed systems for smallholder farmers’ food security”. The training workshop was primarily focused on sensitizing and capacitating farmers on Schedule D provision of landrace registration. Practical sessions were dedicated to develop and refine registration proposals of Tilki, Ghiupuri, Kanak Jira and Dalle Masino varieties of rice, Nepale Bhatmas of soybean and Dalle Kodo of finger millet. Proposals of these varieties are under development stage in the lead of farmer’s organizations and community seed banks from their respective sites.
The training workshop participants were composed of community seed bank association, Nepal (CSBAN) members, community seed banks (CSBs) members who are involved in conservation, use and registration process of different local landraces. In total, there were 19 participants including 16 male and 3 female participants representing six different CSBs from Sankhuwasabha, Bara, Tanahun, Agayuli, Dang and Bardiya district of Nepal including resource persons from Gene Bank, LI-BIRD and Centre for Crop Development and Agrobiodiversity Conservation (CCDABC), Department of Agriculture, Lalitpur, Nepal.
Mr. Sitaram Bajgain, President of Community Seed Bank Association, Nepal, giving their views on sustainability of CSBs in Nepal Photo: Pradip Thapa, Gene Bank
Mr. Pradip Thapa, Technical Officer of National Gene Bank presenting a session ‘recent seed policy provisions and relaxed procedure for registration of local landraces in Nepal’ Photo: Niranjan Pudasaini, LI-BIRD
MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS OF TRAINING WORKSHOP
The training workshop was facilitated by Mr. Pradip Thapa from National Gene Bank, NARC. There were altogether five resource persons from National Gene Bank, CDABCC and LI-BIRD Nepal (Dr. Krishna Kumar Mishra, Dr. Ram Krishna Shrestha, Pradip Thapa, Niranjan Pudasaini and Dr. Shree Prasad Neupane). On the 1st day of the training, Dr. Krishna Kumar Mishra started his technical session with welcoming all the participants. He highlighted the status of agro-biodiversity in Nepal along with role of national gene bank for conservation of local landraces. After that Mr. Pradip Thapa from gene bank highlighted the recent seed policy provisions and relaxed procedure for registration of local landraces especially focusing on ANNEX D provision of seed regulation (2013). Similarly, Niranjan Pudasaini from LI-BIRD Nepal shared the success and challenges experienced during farmer’s variety registration process in Nepal.
Dr. Ram krishna Shrestha, Chief of CCDABC presenting a session ‘recent ‘Program lunched by Nepal government for promotion of local crops’ Photo: Niranjan Pudasaini, LI-BIRD
2nd day of the training was started with the review and reflection of 1st day. After that, technical session was started by Dr. Krishna Kumar Mishra. He facilitated about the techniques of quality seed production in farmer’s field. This is followed by Mr. Pradip Thapa from gene bank, NARC, who presented the session on variety registration, maintenance and source seed production guidelines of local crops. He opened the floor for discussion and participants gave the valuable feedbacks on this draft guideline. They suggested for inclusion of clause on draft guideline for different prior informed consent (PIC) provision and access benefit sharing mechanism for farmer/group of farmers and private companies. According to them, each and every farmer/farmer’s group can involve in source seed production and marketing with PIC from farmer/farmer’s group who registered the certain variety but in case of private company, they should provide certain royalty for conservation and promotion of this variety which can be fixed by mutual agreement between farmer/farmer’s group and company. Similarly, Dr. Ram Krishna Shrestha from CCDABC, Department of Agriculture highlighted the program launched by Nepal government for promotion of local crops. He also emphasized that joint effort is necessary for conservation and promotion of local crops in Nepal and he added that they are always ready for that from their side. Last session of 2nd day was about field data collection technique for variety registration development. This session was facilitated by Shree prasad Neupane, Plant Breeder from LI-BIRD Nepal. In this session, he focused on techniques of field data collections of local landraces for registration proposal development.
Mr. Shree Prasad Neupane, Plant breeder of LI-BIRD presenting a session ‘Techniques of field data collections for registration proposal development’ Photo: Niranjan Pudasaini, LI-BIRD
Last day of the training workshop was focused on refinement of registration proposals of six different varieties drafted by farmers themselves. There was draft registration proposal of Dalle Masino Dhan (rice) of Tanahun, Tilki Dhan (rice) of Dang, Ghiupuri Dhan (rice) of Bardiya, Jhinuwa ( kanakjira) Dhan (rice) of Nawalpur and Nepale Bhatmas (soybean) and Dalle Kodo (fingermillet) of Sankhuwasabha. Six groups were formed and each group was led by one resource person. Detailed discussion was made within groups for refinement of draft proposals. After that, proposals were presented by respective farmers based on schedule D provision. After presentation, there was detailed discussion made on each and every point of the proposals and important feedbacks and comments were given by resource persons from gene bank and LI-BIRD Nepal for further refinement. They suggested for inclusion of broad origin place rather than one community or specific ward of rural municipality. Beside these, they suggested to apply appropriate techniques for agro-morphological traits measurement. In this way, proposals were refined and ready to submit in variety release and registration sub-committee. After that, short discussion was done about how to strengthen CSBs in Nepal?. In this regard, president of community seed bank association Mr. Sitaram Bajgain and Chief of National Gene Bank gave their views focusing on coordination with local government for budget allocation. Chief of National Gene Bank Dr. Krishna Kumar Mishra committed to support CSBs on local germplasm collection, conservation and variety registration process by providing technical support and backstopping whenever possible.
Participants working in group during proposal refinement session at training workshop
Mr. Sitaram Bajgain, farmer from tanahun presenting a registration proposal of Dalle Masino Dhan Photo: Niranjan Pudasaini, LI-BIRD
Mr. Dev Bahadur Bhandari, farmer from Bardiya presenting a registration proposal of Ghiupuri Dhan (local rice) Photo: Pradip Thapa, National Gene Bank
OUTPUTS OF THE TRAINING WORKSHOP
- Registration proposals of six local variety of different crops refined and made ready to submit to VRRSC
- Participants got the opportunity to understand the appropriate techniques of field data collection for registration proposal development
- Participants got opportunity to understand recent seed policy provisions and relaxed procedure for registration of local landraces in Nepal
- Participants got the opportunity to understand the importance as well as the status of agrobiodiversity in Nepal
- Participants got opportunity to understand the techniques of quality seed production of local crops in farmer’s field
- Participants were informed about the programs launched by Nepal government for promotion of local crops
This training workshop was carried out as a part of “Improving seed systems for smallholder farmers’ food security” project funded by Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and being implemented in Nepal jointly by NAGRC of NARC, LI-BIRD and the Alliance of Bioversity International & CIAT. This article is reviewed by Niranjan Pudasaini, LI-BIRD and Devendra Gauchan, Alliance of Bioversity International & CIAT.