Maize seed marketing is one of the major challenges faced by the Hill Maize Research Project (HMRP). In the project the seed multiplication program was initiated through community based seed production (CBSP) approach in 2000. A total of 14 tons of improved seed was produced by 7 CBSP groups in that year, and about 1,036 tons was produced through 207 groups in 2012 and 1,216 tons with same number of CBSP groups has been estimated for 2013. In the previous three phases of the project, maize seed produced by CBSP groups was not giving due care on market demand of desired variety and quantity. This created problems in seed marketing. Realizing this fact, the HMRP- IV in 2013 has initiated pre-sowing seed contract (PSSC) for improved maize seed production by signing formal agreements between CBSP groups and private organizations such as agrovets, cooperatives, seed banks and seed companies.
In this context, Tilottama Agriculture Cooperative Ltd., Pokharathok, Palpa, one of the CBSP groups of the HMRP, signed pre-sowing seed contract on 5th February 2013 with Bhandari Agrovet, Tansen-3 Palpa for 2,000 kg seed of the improved maize seed. This contract is believed to be the first in the history of improved maize seed production in the hills of Nepal. In 2013 the project, in coordination with District Agri. Development Office and Seed Entrepreneurs’ Association, Nepal (SEAN), facilitated signing pre-sowing seed contract of 207 tons of improved maize seed between 52 CBSP Groups and 25 private seed buyers/ traders in the project area.
The community based seed production (CBSP) program is one of the most successful interventions of the Hill Maize Research Project (HMRP) Phase IV in Nepal. Through this program, the project has significantly contributed to the increase in maize seed replacement rate, maize productivity, and income of smallholder and resource-poor farmers in the hills of the country. To observe the successes achieved so far, teams from USAID-Nepal, CIMMYT-Mexico, and HMRP visited a community-managed seed company in the Thumpahkar Village of Sindupalchowk district, located about 100 km north-east of Kathmandu, on 12 October 2012. The USAID team comprised of John Stamm (General Dev elopment Office director, USAID-Nepal), Luis Guzman (Feed the Future team leader, USAID-Nepal), Shanker Khagi (South Asia Regional Initiative for Energy country coordinator), and Lindsey Moore (USAID-Bangladesh). CIMMYT’s Thomas Short (Deputy Director General for Corporate Services), Nellooli P. Rajasekharan (International Human Resources Director), G. Ortiz Ferrara (HMRP Team Leader), Nirmal Gadal (HMRP Agronomist), and Dilli KC (HMRP Seed Value Chain and Marketing Expert) were also present, along with about 35 seed growers, including the management team of the company.
The meeting was chaired by Gunda Bahadur Dhami, chairperson of Sindhu-Tuki Seed Production Cooperative Ltd. During a brief presentation, the company’s coordinator D.B. Bhandari summarized the institutional graduation of the farmers’ groups to a cooperative and later to a private seed company. Starting in 2005, the cooperative developed into a private seed company in 2010 with the technical support from HMRP. It currently works with 300 members organized in 14 CBSP groups. Bhandari also discussed the company’s current activities, future plan, operational model, membership policy, marketing activities, and approaches to gender and sustainability.
Stamm acknowledged the project team and congratulated farmers on the impact achieved so far. “USAID-Nepal considers HMRP a very successful project, and your seed company is a model for economic development of rural areas,” he said. Rajasekharan then thanked the HMRP team for organizing the field visit and expressed CIMMYT’s commitment to support the project staff in their work aiming to improve food security among Nepalese maize farmers. Short added: “I echo Raj’s words in congratulating the members of this seed company, but I also take the opportunity to thank the two donors of HMRP, USAID and SDC, for their financial and technical support given to the project.” Ortiz Ferrara stressed that “sustainability is the prime concern of HMRP, and the entire project activities are built on the clearly defined roles and responsibilities of the multiple stakeholders. This small seed company is now operating on its own resources, and this is only one of the 195 CBSP groups coordinated by HMRP in 20 hill districts.” Responding to a question raised by Khagi regarding the competitiveness of improved maize seed, a female maize seed grower said: “The new maize varieties are high yielding, disease and lodging tolerant, have good taste, and the grain can be stored for a longer time.” Dhami followed: “We are just learning to walk and there is still a lot to do to help small farmers in our hill area to achieve food security and increase their income.” He thanked the guests for their valuable time and their continuing collaboration with the recently established seed company. At the end of the discussion, the team observed the seed processing plant, seed store house, and the community seed bank.
Rajasekharan and Short combined the field visit with an interaction meeting with the nationally recruited staff of CIMMYT-Nepal to discuss and clarify administrative issues. They both thanked the staff for their dedication, commitment, and support for CIMMYT activities in Nepal and in South Asia.
The Hill Maize Research Project (HMRP) led by CIMMYT, in close partnership with the the Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC), and the Department of Agriculture (DoA) jointly organized a five-day Maize Traveling Seminar for high-level officials in the hills of Nepal during 2-6 September 2012. The purpose of the seminar was to offer policy makers first-hand information on the status of maize varietal development, seed multiplication, marketing, technology dissemination, and the HMRP’s efforts to improve food security and livelihoods of the resource-poor and disadvantaged farmers in the hills of the country. The seminar was attended by 25 officials from the National Planning Commission (NPC), Ministry of Agriculture and Development (MoAD), Ministry of Finance (MoF), NARC, National Seed Board (NSB), DoA, donors (SDC) and USAID), NGOs, private sector, and the media.
At the beginning of the seminar, the newly-established Ganesh Himal community-managed seed company from the mid-hill District of Dhading was inaugurated. Yamuna Ghale, Senior Program Officer and SDC representative stressed its importance for the region: “The more than four tons of improved seed this company is expected to produce and sell to neighboring districts will help to increase the seed replacement rate in the area with resulting increases in productivity this year. This approach needs to be replicated in other hill areas of the country.” The participants then visited the National Maize Research Program (NMRP) in Rampur, Chitwan, where they observed varietal improvement and maintenance and source seed production activities. NMRP Coordinator K.B. Koirala presented on the present status, priorities, and challenges of maize research and seed production in Nepal. He also highlighted that the area under maize source seed production and the quality of the seed have been significantly improved, and that NMRP and other HMRP partners had reached thousands of resource-poor farmers in their respective command areas.
During the rest of the traveling seminar, participants visited HMRP partners’ activities in the hill districts of Palpa, Syangja, and Kaski, including participatory variety selection (PVS), community-based seed production (CBSP), maize-vegetables intercropping, and on-farm trials and demonstrations activities conducted by CBSP groups and cooperatives. In the Manakamana Women Farmers Group of Syangja district, about 45 women members gathered to welcome the participants of the seminar. During interactions with the farmers, they learnt about farmers’ constraints and needs for marketing the seed, improving yields, storage facilities, credits, inputs, training etc. Amy Prevatt, USAID-Nepal representative, expressed her satisfaction with the accomplishments of HMRP and its partners regarding reducing poverty and food insecurity in the hills of Nepal. “I am sure the project will continue supporting you to overcome the marketing constraints and to make your CBSP group stronger and sustainable,” she said. The team and the farmers carried a walk around the village to observe crop conditions in CBSP, PVS, and intercropping trials. The team then headed for the Palpa district to visit the Radha Krishna Women farmers groups and Shiva Sakti maize seed producers group in Chatiwan, which has recently graduated into a cooperative with technical assistance from HMRP and its partners.
The seminar was concluded with a business meeting co-chaired by Tek Bahadur Gurung (NARC Director of livestock and fisheries) and Dharma Dutta Baral (Deputy Director General at DoA under MoAD). During the meeting, participants assessed the effectiveness of the seminar; most of them expressed their satisfaction over its achievements, shared recommendations for further improvement, and suggested that the seminar be conducted annually during the main maize season. “The seminar provided good information that can only be appreciated by observing it at the field level,” said Baral. Gurung summed up the meeting by thanking the seminar organizers and stating that “the NARC and the MoAD are proud of the close partnership we have maintained with CIMMYT over the past 27 years. Events like the traveling seminar give us the opportunity to witness some of the fruitful results of this partnership.”
The Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) celebrated its 21st Anniversary in Kathmandu on the 7th of May 2012. Chief Guest, Mr. Barsha Man Pun (Minister-designate and representative of Honorable Prime Minister Mr. Baburam Bhattarai), inaugurated the opening ceremony. Other Government authorities such as Dr. Dipendra Bahadur Kshetry (Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission, NPC), Mr. Nathu Prasad Chaudhary (Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, MoAC), and Dr. Dil Bahadur Gurung (Executive Director of NARC), were also among the high level officials attending the celebration. From CIMMYT-Nepal, G. Ortiz Ferrara (Country Liaison Officer), Arun K. Joshi (Head of Administration) and Nirmal Gadal (HMRP/CIMMYT Agronomist) were invited to attend. The gathering brought more than 275 scientists, development workers and other NARC scientists working in agriculture in Nepal. “The Nepal Government is planning to raise the budget for agriculture significantly in the upcoming national budget plan” Mr. Pun said. “There is also a need to adopt enhanced technology to double agricultural production and attract youth to the sector”, Pun added. He also mentioned that “the Prime Minister and his Government are committed on giving top priority to farming as it is the only way to alleviate poverty and ensure employment to a larger section of society”. Dr. Kshetry’s said that “in the next Government fiscal year, NARC and the MoAC have plans to deploy large number of agricultural scientists and technicians in all the 75 districts in the country to address farming and farmer’s problems”. Dr. Gurung highlighted that “the low seed replacement rate is one of the major factors affecting farm productivity and output. Similarly, around 70% of the farmland in the country is not irrigated and they depend on the mercy of the sky”. On behalf of CIMMYT’s Director General, the Management, and of all the CIMMYT colleagues who have worked in Nepal over the past 27 years, G. Ortiz Ferrara congratulated NARC on its anniversary and thanked the GoN for the strong partnership and for hosting the South Asia regional office in the country. He took the opportunity to brief the audience about the Nepal Borlaug Institute for South Asia (BISA) concept discussed with the Management of NARC by Thomas Lumpkin during his recent visit to Nepal. “The strategic objective of BISA in Nepal is to enable NARC, CIMMYT and its partners to deliver greater impact toward the food security and livelihoods in the country” G. Ortiz Ferrara said. He also highlighted the strong endorsement given to the BISA in India by Honorable Prime Minister Mr. Man Mohan Singh and the GoI. In their closing remarks, Mr. Pun and Dr. Kshetry expressed Nepal’s Government strong interest and unconditional support for a BISA-Nepal. “Nepal is a poor country, but we have a good heart, we fully support this initiative” Dr. Gurung also said in his closing speech. NARC and CIMMYT-Nepal scientists are currently having strategic meetings to develop a proposal and a plan of action to make BISA-Nepal a reality.
Dr. Thomas Lumpkin, Director General of CIMMYT visited Nepal during 1-3 of May 2012. One of the main objectives of his visit was to discuss with NARC and CIMMYT scientists the Borlaug Institute for South Asia (BISA) launched last year in India, and the potential for Nepal to follow a similar model in the country. Dr. Lumpkin also had fruitful technical and
administrative discussions with CIMMYT international and national staff based in Kathmandu. Together with several Directors of NARC, including Dr. Tek Bahadur Gurung (Director of Administration and Interim Executive Director of NARC), Dr. B. N. Mahto (Director of Planning and Coordination), and Dr. Neeranjan Adhikari (Director of Crops and Horticulture), he visited three potential sites/locations in Khumaltar (NARC research station located in the outskirts of Kathmandu) where the main administrative building, as well as the training and research facilities, could be based. Dr. Ortiz Ferrara (CIMMYT’s CLO) and Mr. Surath Pradhan (CIMMYT-Nepal Office Manager) also joined the site visit.
“CIMMYT is interested in expanding the crop improvement and crop management systems research and development activities being conducted in collaboration with the MoAC, NARC and all the other partners who have been associated with CIMMYT in Nepal for more than 40 years. We look forward to a Nepal BISA that can enable CIMMYT and its partners to deliver greater impact toward the food security in the country”, said Dr. Lumpkin. On behalf of the ED of NARC, Dr. Tek Bahadur Gurung expressed NARC’s interest and unconditional support to make the Nepal BISA a reality. NARC Management, the CIMMYT CLO and other senior CIMMYT IRS based in Nepal, will soon sit together to develop a strategy and start the process of designing and implementing BISA Nepal. On the second day of his visit, Dr. Lumpkin was invited to deliver a lecture at the Nepal Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) with the topic “Food Security in South Asia: Opportunities and Challenges for Agro-eco-scientists”. More than 50 scientists of NARC and NARI attended the lecture which generated a lot of interest and a lively discussion. Coinciding with the visit to Khumaltar, Dr. Lumpkin was invited to inaugurate a sports event organized by NARC. The ceremony started by him making the first serve in a volley ball tournament. “Not a bad serve for a person who travels more than 200 days a year” his CIMMYT colleagues commented.
The Hill Maize Research Project (HMRP- IV) covers 20 hill districts from the east to the west of Nepal, and is jointly funded by SDC and USAID-Nepal. The overall goal of HMRP-IV (2010-2014) is to improve the food security and income of farm households in the hills of Nepal, especially of the poor and disadvantaged groups.
In HMRP IV, aside from the maize research and development activities, market assurance for maize seed produced under community based seed production (CBSP) groups in a value chain system, and enhancing management and marketing competencies of partners are added activities in this phase. To improve the seed marketing, Phase IV has conceptualized various strategies such as targeting local level seed market outlets (agrovets, cooperatives, seed companies), creating awareness on use of improved maize varieties, providing market information to clients on time, provision of seed revolving funds to selected CBSP groups, advocacy for getting local government’s block grant to purchase maize seed produced by CBSP groups and cooperatives, establishing effective seed marketing network at the district and project level, onboard more number of private organizations in seed business, adopt demand driven and technology supported seed production programs, advocacy for contract seed production, market infrastructure support, graduation of CBSP groups to cooperatives and to seed company, establishing cooperative/ private sector led seed production and marketing system, etc.
The HMRP in collaboration with National Maize Research Program (NMRP) completed a 20 days training course on maize seed production technologies (15 days) and seed business plan development and marketing (5 days). The training was organized from 27th March to 16th April 2012 at NMRP, Rampur. A total of 31 participants (11 women) participated in this training. The participants were the members of CBSP groups of HMRP. They will work as community seed promoters in their respective groups afterward.
The training was conducted in two thematic areas. First on maize seed production technologies which covered complete agronomic practices on maize seed production, primarily maize morphology, farmers’ practice in maize varietal development, source seed production technologies, crop management technology including insect pest management, improved seed production through CBSP, seed quality control and truthful labeling, etc. The second area was on maize seed business plan development and seed marketing, which covered seed marketing strategies of HMRP, concepts on agriculture marketing, cost of maize seed production including detail exercises, maize seed value-chain analysis, maize seed business plan development (concept and practical), book keeping at CBSP group level, approaching CBSP groups to local state (VDC/DDC) funds and importance of GESI in CBSP approach, introduction on cooperatives and private company, and basic legal requirements for their establishment.
In the last day of the training course a comprehensive action plan was prepared by each trainee and presented in group. Pre and post course evaluation of participants were conducted in both courses and the first-ranked candidate was awarded. Dr. K. B. Koirala, National Coordinator of NMRP chaired the closing session of the training. He appreciated the training course conducted by the HMRP and emphasized the high importance of this type of training in the practical field. Dr. G. Ortiz-Ferrara, HMRP Team Leader, thanked all participants of the training, the training coordinator and resource persons for their help and cooperation to make this course successful. Finally, Dr. Koirala and Dr. Ferrara jointly distributed the certificates and training kits to all participants.
On 04 April 2012 CIMMYT received an “Award of Honor” from the Society of Agricultural Scientist of Nepal (SAS-N). The award, in a form of a plaque, was handed over by Mr. Om Prakash Yadav, Chief Guest and Honorable Minister of State for Agriculture and Cooperatives. “This recognition is given to CIMMYT International for the many contributions in maize and wheat research and development in Nepal,” said Yadav.
Receiving the prize on behalf of CIMMYT, Nepal country representative Guillermo Ortiz-Ferrara thanked the Society for the recognition. “On behalf of the director general of CIMMYT, Dr. Thomas Lumpkin, the center’s management, and colleagues who have been based in Nepal and the region for more than 26 years, we thank SAS-N for this great honor,” he said. “I would like to give special thanks to the government of Nepal and the MoAC for hosting CIMMYT’s regional office. Finally, we thank the many government and non-government organizations for their long-standing partnership and collaboration.”
SAS-N is a non-profit professional organization dedicated to agricultural research and development in Nepal. It serves as a shared forum for agricultural scientists and researchers throughout the country and in various agricultural and related institutions. The Society aims to safeguard their professional integrity and improve research standards, thereby fostering economic development through agriculture growth. Some 300 participants in the meeting presented 135 papers on food security, agro-biodiversity, horticulture, livestock, fisheries, nutrition, plant breeding, pathology, crop and soils management, physiology, micro nutrients, irrigation, agro forestry, climate change, and socioeconomics.
In a personal message to Dr. Hira Kaji Manandhar, President of SAS-N, Lumpkin sent his regrets for not being able to attend the event and said: “CIMMYT is very honored by your award. The agriculture research and farmer community of Nepal has been of priority importance to CIMMYT for over 40 years. Many Nepali scientists and staff are and have been part of the CIMMYT team. In recent years we have been expanding our portfolio of development projects in Nepal and are even planning construction of a building, perhaps as Nepal’s part of CIMMYT’s Borlaug Institute for South Asia, near Kathmandu”.
In a message of congratulations to SAS-N, Marianne Bänziger, CIMMYT deputy director general for research and partnerships, said: “We are very honored indeed for CIMMYT to receive this prestigious Award of Honor from the Society of Agricultural Scientists in Nepal. It should be testimony to the extremely fruitful and highly-valued collaboration that we have with scientists and institutions in Nepal for more than two decades. It is a partnership of mutual respect, complementary skills, joint leanings, and successes. We highly appreciate the support, hospitality and friendship that our staff experience, both those that are posted in Nepal as well as when others who visit. Without our collaboration with Nepal, CIMMYT and its programs would be less.
Twenty-one days training course on maize seed production technologies and seed business plan development completed on 16 April 2012. The training was conducted at National Maize Research Program (NMRP), Rampur. This course was jointly organized by the HMRP and NMRP. A total of 31 participants (11 women) participated in this training. The participants were the members of community based seed production (CBSP) groups of HMRP. They will work as community seed promotor in their respective group. Dr. K. B. Koirala, National Coordinator, NMRP and Dr. G. Ortiz-Ferrara, Team Leader HMRP jointly distributed the certificates to all participants.
Mr. John Stamm (Director, General Development Office, USAID-Nepal), Mr. Navin Hada (AID Project Development Specialist, USAID-Nepal), and Ms. Binita Rai (Admin Assistant, USAID-Nepal) visited the HMRP’s activities in Palpa and Baglung districts from 27- 29 February 2012. The team interacted with representatives of HMRP’s project partners (District Agriculture Development Offices, NARC, NGOs, Agrovets) and members of Community Based Maize Seed Production groups in both districts. Mr. Stamm, Mr. Hada, and Ms. Rai also talked with partners and CBSP members about various aspects of project activities, particularly on program sustainability, scaling up and the way forward. The team also inspected the equipment provided by the HMRP to the CBSP groups. Mr. Stamm handed over one mini-tiller each to CBSP groups in Gulmi and Baglung districts. The USAID-Nepal and HMRP/CIMMYT team also visited the R/ARS of NARC in Lumle. Lumle station has played an important role on sourse seed production, training and CBSP coordination, and the visitors had the opportunity to learn about about research and development activities conducted and coordinated by Lumle scientists. The team was happy with the activities performed by the groups and proposed strategies for program sustainability. The visit was facilitated by HMRP Team Leader Dr. G. Ortiz-Ferrara, Mr. Nirmal Gadal, Dr. Dilli KC, and Mr. Ramesh Puri.
Four… days annual review and planning meeting of HMRP-IV ended on 16 December 2011. The 108 participants representated the various partners of the project. Dr. G. Ortiz-Ferrara, TL, HMRP presented the objective of the meeting and project highlights. During the meeting Mr. John Stamm, GDO/USAID and Ms. Yamuna Ghale, SPO/SDC jointly launched the the HMRP-IV brochure and the maize folk song cassette prepared by project partners. Similarly, Dr. B. M. Prasanna, Director, Global Maize Program launched the HMRP website. Dr. Dil Bahadur Gurung, ED, Nepal Agricultural Research Council chaired the closing session of the meeting.