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USAID Famine Seed Project meeting held in Nepal

17On 30 June 2010, a USAID Famine Seed Project meeting was organized at CIMMYT’s South Asia Office in Kathmandu, Nepal. Seventeen participants, including those from the Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC), CIMMYT-Nepal, CIMMYT-Bangladesh, and Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) HUB partners in Nepal, attended the meeting. The objectives of the day were to: (1) review 2009-10 crop cycle work and progress, (2) to develop a work plan for the upcoming 2010-11 cycle and, (3) to strengthen collaboration with technology-delivering stakeholders.

Arun Joshi, CIMMYT wheat breeder, opened the event with an overview of the progress and on-going challenges facing the six countries involved in the USAID project (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Ethiopia, Pakistan, and Nepal). He identified the project’s major activities as: (1) identification of suitable Ug99 resistant varieties and their pre- and post-release seed production, and (2) delivery of seed to farmers and rapid dissemination. CIMMYT, ICARDA, the BGRI, and national wheat programs are jointly implementing these activities.

This year, 2010, marks 25 years of strong partnership between CIMMYT and NARC, a milestone highlighted by NARC Executive Director B. Mishra, who also pointed out that the Famine Fund meeting was the first major NARC-CIMMYT meeting this year. Mishra said that Nepal is doing its best to produce sufficient amounts of Ug99 resistant seed, with a goal of producing enough to replant at least 5% of Nepal’s wheat area within the next two to three years. He happily announced that the new Ug99 resistant variety BL 3063 (GS348/NL746//NL748) has been approved by NARC’s technical committee, and will soon be released for cultivation.

Next, NARC scientists J. Tripathi, S.R. Upadhyay, and N.R. Gautam presented the specifics of Nepal’s work and efforts from the 2009-10 crop cycle, and outlined a potential 2010-11 work plan. They said that the estimated seed production of resistant lines in 2010–11 will be sufficient to meet 7.3% of the effective seed market, and to cover 2.4% of the total wheat area in Nepal. M.R. Bhatta and Sarala Sharma highlighted the importance of farmer participatory research for successful dissemination of new resistant seed varieties in Nepal.

The following presentation included explanations and deatils about the progress of the field demonstrations overseen by Nepal’s CSISA HUB. D.P Sherchan, CSISA HUB manager, and A.P. Regmi, agronomist, said that field demonstrations are important for the delivery of Ug99 resistant seed and seed resistant to other rusts, and that in large-scale trials, the yield of newly obtained resistant varieties (BL 3063 and Francolin) under zero tillage was significantly superior to the local checks.

Toward the end of the meeting, K.D. Joshi, South Asia regional coordinator for CAZS Natural Resources, part of Bangor University, UK, explained ways to enhance linkages with NGOs and newly emerging private sector companies to promote seed production and dissemination. T.P. Tiwari, CIMMYT-Bangladesh cropping system agronomist, summarized his experiences with particular agronomic interventions that could benefit field trials in Nepal.

The discussion outcomes led to the development of similar agronomic plans for Nepal and Bangladesh to harness the potential of Ug99 resistant lines. The meeting also provided a good update on progress in the USAID seed project, and provided ideas on how to strengthen ties between CSISA, NGOs, and the private sector, as well as providing suggestions on new agronomic innervations that could be integrated into trials in the upcoming crop cycle.