Village level seed banks to combat seed shortages
This topic provides information about Village level seed banks to combat seed shortages.
Seed shortage of suitable crop varieties is an important limitation faced by farmers to implement contingency crop plans to tackle aberrant rainfall situations. In vulnerable areas, farmers tend to dispose-off the entire produce as grain and therefore depend on external sources for seed supply in the next season. In crops where the seed multiplication ratio is low, seed rate and seed cost is high (e.g. soybean and groundnut) and this dependence entails significant investment towards seed cost at the start of the season. Early season drought and need for re-sowing will only exacerbate the hardship faced by farmers. Seed of certain contingency crops like minor millets are sometimes left out of the normal seed supply chain. Identification of suitable varieties of main and alternate crops is needed in drought and flood prone areas so that seed production can be taken up well in advance and kept in the village seed bank for use in contingency situations at the local level.
Resilient practice / technology
Participatory village level seed production of short duration, drought and flood tolerant varieties was demonstrated in several NICRA villages with the support of KVKs in rice, soybean, groundnut, greengram, finger millet, foxtail millet and pigeonpea. Breeder seed / foundation seed was sourced from research farms for multiplication in farmers fields and the quality seed so produced was mostly used in the village and nearby villages. Farmer to farmer sale as truthful seed was the means of spread.
Impact of seed bank
D. Naganahalli village in Tumkur, Karnataka became self-sufficient in seed of short duration variety of finger millet variety (ML-365) suitable for late planting in case of delay in monsoon rains. Similarly farmers in Yagnantipalle village became self-sufficient in seed of foxtail millet (SIA 3805) and successfully switched over to its cultivation instead of risky crops like cotton due to occurrence of prolonged dry spells. Performance of short duration and early maturing variety of soybean (JS-95-60) in Sanora and Boroundi village, Datia, Madhya Pradesh and its seed production was responsible for its spread to nearby villages in about 400 ha in one year's time after its introduction. Production of drought tolerant paddy variety, Sahbhagi dhan in Shokhodeora village in Nawada, Bihar helped the villagers to successfully take up paddy under deficit rainfall conditions in kharif 2013 unlike farmers in other villages who had to abandon nurseries of long duration varieties and kept their lands fallow.
Scope for upscaling
Use of farm saved seed is predominantly the means of absorbing the risk associated with contingency situations arising on account of delay in onset of monsoon or in situations warranting re-sowing of crops due to failure of rains immediately after sowing in low rainfall areas. Under the technology demonstration component, NICRA KVKs conducted participatory demonstrations with identified varieties of crops in NICRA villages. Based on the performance of these varieties, seed production was encouraged at the village level. The crucial challenge for NICRA KVKs was to identify the appropriate varieties of crops suitable for meeting location specific contingency situations. Support from the central schemes for establishment and maintenance of seed banks by state seed corporations and the seed village scheme is to be tapped in the ensuing period.