by Mayank Sharma
WEST BENGAL, India—A varietal exhibition was held in Birbhum to enhance key seed system players’ awareness of stress-tolerant rice varieties and help promote them. The activity also aims to improve seed supply and accelerate the adoption of suitable varieties by small and marginal farmers living in stress-prone areas in eastern India. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in India, facilitated the event through its project, Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA), which organized the client-oriented varietal exhibition on 22 October as part of its strategy to reduce poverty and to stabilize rice production in rainfed ecosystems through the use of modern varieties and technology.
To support its project objective, STRASA brought together around 140 representatives from seed dealers, seed producers, private seed companies, state seed corporations, non-governmental organizations, progressive farmers and others from Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Assam to enhance their knowledge of new stress-tolerant rice varieties. The on-farm display featured all stress-tolerant rice varieties released in India along with some popular high-yielding varieties from eastern Indian states giving participants the opportunity to observe the traits of these improved rice varieties.
“Engaging the private sector in the diffusion process is important and sustainable,” said Dr. Manzoor Dar, a development specialist in agricultural research at IRRI-India who initiated the idea of bringing these stakeholders in eastern India together. “Delivering these services directly to seed dealers has a greater impact on the spread of new varieties since they have incentives to spread this information to their customers. Increases in the demand for these varieties translate directly to increased profits for dealers.”
IRRI-STRASA also held a worskhop on various aspects of seed supply chain to help the private seed sector develop better seed markets and strategies for scaling-up the production and adoption of these improved varieties. During the workshop, Dr. Gary Atlin (third from right in photo), senior program officer at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, stressed the role of private seed companies and dealers in supplying quality products to the farmers and need to promote climate-resilient rice varieties.
The workshop provided key seed players with a platform to give their feedback.
“We encourage seed dealers and private seed companies to share their experiences and requirements on behalf of the farmers,” said Dr. George Kotch (extreme right in photo), head of Plant Breeding Division at IRRI. “This way the IRRI breeding program can be more effective in meeting the need of the farmers and the market.”
IRRI, through STRASA Project, is currently working to build the capacity to scale out stress-tolerant rice varieties in South Asia.
“This includes partnerships with local NGOs and private seed companies to ensure adequate and sustainable seed supply and availability,” said Dar. “IRRI-STRASA has initiated forming a platform for all stakeholders in the seed sector who can be part of enhancing the delivery of these varieties in the target areas.” (See similar article in IRRI News)
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