This page features a compilation and selection of Japanese seed industry news briefs, summaries and leads, with an emphasis on events that impact or affect provinces, regions, counties, cities and locales in Nepal.
The news covers trends and events regarding seed regulation, testing, legislation, phytosanitary issues, intellectual property rights, biotechnology (genomics, gene-editing) plant breeding, agronomy and cropping, with original sources linked.
This page will be updated throughout the year, with most recent briefs listed first.
Local tomato, vegetable producers struggle to compete with imports: February 20: According to some local growers, the price of locally-produced tomatoes, cauliflowers, carrots and other vegetables has been decreasing due to high competition from imported vegetables. The average wholesale price of tomatoes grown by farmers In Chitwan was reportedly only Rs 7 per kg, though able to fetch Rs 22 per kg in Kathmandu, and sold in retail shops for as much Rs 60. According to the Nepal Fruits and Vegetable Traders Federation. The trend is common during the period between November and January, and results from a large quantity of vegetables that are imported from India during this period. Source
CIMMYT support helps Nepal farmer increase market independence: August 11: Market support from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) as part of its Nepal Seed and Fertilizer (NSAF) project, has enabled one maize farmer to bolster annual turnover from $195,000 to $626,000 in eight years. Source
Community-based seed banks gaining momentum: July 15: A campaign to popularize native food crop varieties such as rice, cucumbers, and maize is gaining momentum with the establishment of community-run seed banks across Nepal. The Centre for Crop Development and Agro Bio-diversity Conservation estimates that there are currently 53 seed banks. The seed banks allow members to use the seeds to grow crops and save them for future use, and also to participate in regular seed exchange programs with other seed banks that not only help farmers obtain seeds from other farmers but also conserve native species, and breed diversity that will help withstand the impact of climate change. Read original story here and here
Seed Act Amendment Passes: July 10: A bill to amend the Seeds Act, 1988, was recently passed by both houses of Parliament. The amendment requires compensation for farmers who suffer losses due to defective seeds or fertilizers, and also losses from employing techniques and processes that have been recommended to the farmers. The revised Act also prohibits the sale or distribution of seed varieties that are not on the government's official list except for research purposes and also requires importers or exporters to conduct a risk analysis before importing or exporting any variety of seeds to avoid adverse impacts. Source
Fertilizer shortage to be allayed by neighboring supplies: June 29: Nepali farmers struggling to cope with a shortage of fertilizers during the peak harvest season, will be relieved by Indian supplies assured through a government to government agreement. Agriculture reportedly contributes to about 25 per cent of the national economy, while employing about 60 per cent of the workforce. Thanks to a memorandum of understanding recently signed between Nepal and India to supply 150,000 tons of chemical fertilizer through a government-to-government , a shipment of 50,000 tonnes of urea and 30,000 tonnes of DAP was to be shipped by mid-July. According to estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Nepal’s annual demand for fertilizer stands at around 600,000 tons, and domestic supplies have been insufficient up to this point.. Source.
Paddy planting delayed by erratic weather: June 29: Though June 29 was marked as National Paddy Planting Day this year, it was determined by many farmers as not the optimal time to plant the first saplings, citing erratic monsoon and irregular rain. Source.
More than 400 million vegetable crops destroyed by hail in Dhankuta: 5 Apr: Already suffering from a prolonged drought this year, farmers in Dhankuta were further devastated by hail that ruined crops and vegetables. Potatoes, cabbage, peas, and other crops were completely destroyed totally 1,210 hectares in the region resulting in an estimated loss of over USD 3.3 million. Read original story in Nepali here
Kiwi farming in Gandaki Province: Feb 22: Farmers in Baglung District have begun forming collectives in order to grow kiwi fruit. By joining together the farmers will be able to better market the fruit and integrate the cultivable land. A total of 300 kiwi saplings were planted with financial assistance from Galkot Municipality, and the group plans to plant a total of 1,500 saplings in this first phase with an eye on commercial production. Read original story in Nepali here
Commercial strawberry cultivation successful in Lumbini: 7 Mar: This year commercial strawberry farming in the Palpa District of Lumbini has been met with success. Demand for the crop is high, partly due to novelty, and is selling at around USD 4 - 5 per kilogram. Read original story in Nepali here
Farmers in Karnali Province turning to collective apple farming: 12 Mar: Farmers groups in Jajarkot District have begun cultivating apples as the traditional farming of wheat and barley has not produced good yields. A total of 5,500 apple saplings have been planted in an area of 19 hectares that had previously been used to cultivate wheat and barley. Apple farming is attractive for locals in the district due to the low investment required and ease of growing in collective orchards. Read original story in Nepali here
Cardamom farmers in Gandaki Province employing mechanization: Mar 13: The use of new tools and equipment among cardamom farmers in Baglung District has been increasing. Government subsidies on agricultural tools and equipment have encouraged farmers to move towards mechanization to help save time and reduce the need for manpower. There are 250 farmers in the district engaged in cardamom cultivation on around 10 hectares, producing 15 tons this year, selling for USD 5 per kilogram. Read original story in Nepali here
Enhancing Private Sector Engagement in Nepal Seed Industry
A seed policy workshop was jointly organized by the Seed Entrepreneurs’ Association of Nepal (SEAN) and the Nepal Seed and Fertilizer Project (NSAF) on February 22nd at the Soaltee Crowne Plaza Hotel in Kathmandu. The aim of the meeting was to enhance the private sector’s engagement in the Nepal Seed Industry, and focused on facilitating a formal market for imported vegetable seeds, and granting of R&D licenses for private seed companies.
Attending the meeting were a total of 55 participants representing SEAN, Seed Quality Control Centre (SQCC), National Seed Board (NSB), the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD), Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC), and CIMMYT/USAID.
The meeting was chaired by Dr. Yogendra Kumar Karkee, Secretary of the MoALD, and introduced by Mr. Durga P Adhikari, a member of SEAN’s executive committee. Also giving opening remarks were Ms. Lynee Schneider from USAID, and Dr. Dyutiman Choudhary and Dr. Abdurahman Beshir from NSAF.
Former Chairman of SEAN, Mr. Mitra R Dawadi, presented a short background of SEAN and covered topics that included the seed supply situation, major issues arising from lack of adherence to the variety registration guideline (2013), the need for granting hybrid seed production licenses to the private sector, and the facilitation of a formal market for imported vegetable seed.
Similarly, Mr. Ramesh Humagain, Senior Seed Development Officer, SQCC discussed key issues surrounding the vegetable seed import market in Nepal. He argued that the dramatic increase in informal seed imports in recent years was due to the complex registration process, and offered two potential solutions: a) amending seed regulations and b) short-term provisions until the approval of an amended Seeds Act.
An open discussion was held with most participants in agreement as to the relevance of the policy issues raised, and that the government’s and private sector’s presentations were along similar lines, and that NSB/MoALD should take immediate action to address the issues raised.
At the end of the meeting, the secretary announced the formation of a five-member committee to draft a protocol aiming to simplify the registration of imported vegetable varieties. The committee will consist of members from SQCC, SEAN, NARC and NSAF. This committee will present the draft protocol in the forthcoming NSB meeting planned to be held in the next two weeks. It was also agreed that the NSB would form another committee to work on fast tracking variety registration and granting of hybrid seed production licenses to the private sector by amending seed regulations.
Nepal votes to remove cannabis from UN drug schedule: Nepal’s ambassador to Austria, Prakash Kumar Suvedi, who is the Member State representative on the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), on 2 December voted to remove cannabis from the CND’s Schedule IV. A bill to legalize cannabis in Nepal, which would overturn a 1976 law that formally criminalized the cultivation, sale and consumption of cannabis, is being considered by Parliament.