TODAY’S NECESSITY: DIGITIZATION IN SEED SECTOR

Supreksha Khanal

Introduction

Going through the COVID-19 pandemic, the crucial step to be taken is digitization in seed sector. Due to the lock down announced in Nepal, the seed value chain has been hindered and is not able to work efficiently. So, the pandemic has lead to scarcity of quality seeds and thus decreasing the productivity as seed is the basic input for the production. One of the critical challenges that are faced by farmers in Nepal is untimely access of quality seed due to unavailability of improved varieties, lack of information about them, and weak planning and supply management. Many people in the remote areas have no idea on seed recommendation according to domain. In Nepal, it takes at least a year to collate the demand and supply of a required type and quantity of seed. A new digital seed information system is likely to change that, as it will enable all value chain actors to access information on seed demand and supply in real time. In this system, a national database allows easy access to an online seed catalog where characteristics and sources of all registered varieties are available. A balance sheet simultaneously gathers and shares real time information on seed demand and supply by all the stakeholders. The digital platform also helps to plan and monitor seed production and distribution over a period of time.

Seed assessment was found to be one of the greatest problems in seed sector. So, extension system should be flourished now. At present, Seed Quality Control Center (SQCC), Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC), the Centre for Crop Development and Agro Bio-diversity Conservation (CCDABC) and the Vegetable Development Directorate (VDD) are using paper-based data collection systems to record and plan seed production every year. Introduction of digital system for certification, assessment on information of new seeds, hybrid seeds, new rules and laws on restrictions, management can help in continuation of supply chain even in future disasters to occur where if transportation will be put in halt. It increases traceability including even in supply chain. Now-a-days, people have access to mobile phone, even at rural areas, so it will be an effective tool to access digital system at most of the areas.

Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

CIMMYT and its partners are leveraging digital technologies to create an integrated Digitally Enabled Seed Information System (DESIS) that is efficient, dynamic and calculable. This initiative was the result of collaboration between U.S. Global Development Lab and USAID under the Digital Development for Feed the Future (D2FTF) initiative, which aimed to demonstrate that digital tools and approaches can accelerate progress towards food security and nutrition goals. This  information system is currently under development. FHI 360 talked to relevant stakeholders in Nepal to assess their needs, as part of the Mobile Solutions Technical Assistance and Research (mSTAR) project, funded by USAID. Based on this work, CIMMYT and its partners identified a local IT expert and launched the development of DESIS. DESIS will provide an automated version of the seed balance sheet. Using unique logins, agencies will be able to place their requests and seed producers to post their seed supplies. The platform will help to aggregate and manage breeder, foundation and source seed, as well as certified and labeled seed. The system will also include an offline seed catalog where users can view seed characteristics, compare seeds and select released and registered varieties available in Nepal. Users can also generate seed quality reports on batches of seeds. The system will also link farmers to seed suppliers and buyers, to build a better internal Nepalese seed market. The larger goal of DESIS is to help farmers grow better yields and improve livelihoods, while contributing to food security nationwide.

Conclusion

The best part of going digitized is that we can combat fraud in the extension system and also it is time efficient. In today’s date people have easy access with digital gadgets so there will not be any problem in digitization.  Digital solutions are critical to link the agricultural market with vital information so farmers can make decisions for better production and harvest. Another advantage provided by digital system in the context of Nepal is, till the date there has been introduction of such apps that gives information about the crop types based on regions, climatic factors to the farmers (Dawe, 2002). By enhancing that characteristics, more of seed regulated type of apps can be created that collects feedback from farmers on their preferred varieties of different crops, and also can function to provide information on newly introduced varieties seeds in the market. It can liven up e-commerce platform among retailers. Digital solutions are critical to link the agricultural market with vital information so farmers can make decisions for better production and harvest.

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