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Improving food security in Nepal

Food security cannot be achieved until food grains or seeds reach consumers or farmers. This issue was addressed during a training course on post-harvest management of wheat seeds, which was held at the National Wheat Research Program (NWRP), Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) in Bhairahwa during 4-6 July 2011, in collaboration with CIMMYT.

Participants included scientists and technical officers from various NARC research stations and resource personnel from NWRP, seed companies and other institutions – all of whom are actively involved in collaborative wheat seed production programs at their research stations. The course aimed to enhance the knowledge and skills of collaborators participating in wheat seed production and postharvest management in Nepal, especially those engaged in dissemination of newly developed Ug99 resistant varieties.

Arun Joshi, Regional Wheat Breeder, CIMMYT South Asia, launched the course by congratulating the organizers on behalf of CIMMYT for organizing a training program on this important aspect. This sentiment was reiterated by the chair of the inaugural session, National Wheat Coordinator Janmejai Tripathi, who emphasized the fact that seed supply and distribution play a major role in food security in Nepal, where 80% of the population are engaged in agriculture.

Theory and practical sessions addressed the most current issues concerning aspects of post-harvest management. Participants learnt how to achieve safe harvest and storage of seed including proper cleaning-grading, bagging, labelling and testing for minimum seed standards; they were also taken to four public and private sector seed storage and processing plants in Bhairahwa to practice seed sampling and testing. The fundamentals of an efficient marketing strategy for complete use of the seed produced by farmers were also an important part of this program.

Participants responded positively to the course, saying that it improved their ability to achieve safe storage of wheat seeds without sacrificing its minimum seed standards. They were also able to update their knowledge on the most current NARS-CIMMYT wheat seed production programs and seed laws in Nepal.