By Nirmal Gadal/CIMMYT
A three-day travelling seminar organized by CIMMYT’s Hill Maize Research Project (HMRP) and partners gave policy makers a first-hand look at the status of maize varietal development, source seed production, agronomic interventions and seed multiplication and marketing in 20 districts of Nepal. In close partnership with the Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC) and the Department of Agriculture (DoA), HRMP hosted this third annual seminar from 27 to 30 August for 25 officials representing donors such as the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), as well as organizations including the National Planning Commission, Ministry of Agriculture Development (MoAD), Ministry of Finance, non-government organizations, private companies and the media.
Participants visited a variety of sites. At the Agriculture Research Station (ARS) in the district of Dailekh, attendees interacted with scientists and observed maize research activities and conservation agriculture trials. In this area, the project is promoting intercropping white quality protein maize (Poshilo Makai-1) and off-season vegetables such as bitter gourd, tomatoes and radishes. HIV/AIDS infected women farmers in Rakam village of Dailekh were also invited to participate. “Our main resource is land,” said 30-year-old farmer Mana Sara Sijapati during a group discussion. “We must increase our production from this land to have food security in our households during the entire year.” She asked the participants for a program targeted toward farmers affected by HIV/AIDS. Ram Prasad Pulami, joint secretary at the MoAD, asked NARC and DoA representatives to respond to the request immediately.
The group then participated in an interactive program with farmers, observed seed production activities and assessed on-farm trials and demonstration plots at the Basnatamala and Jeevanjyoti Women Community Based Seed Production (CBSP) Group. Dr. G. Ortiz-Ferrara, team leader for HMRP/CIMMYT, and Pulami jointly inaugurated an HMRPfunded seed store house that was built for the CBSP group. The team also visited the Sambriddhi Agriculture Cooperative, Ltd., as well as a quality protein maize village, where conservation agriculture trials will soon be established. Ortiz-Ferrara thanked all the participants, including the HMRP team, for their active participation and support in making the seminar successful. Pulami said during his closing remarks that he appreciated HMRP’s efforts and progress, especially the partnerships between the project and a number of diverse stakeholders. He said the government of Nepal is implementing a “Mid-hill Mega Maize Production Program” focused on 40 hill districts and will utilize HMRP’s experiences and research innovations.