by Mayank Sharma
WEST BENGAL, India—There are many stress-tolerant rice varieties that have been released in India. However, seed producers and companies in the country’s eastern region urgently need to be more aware of their availability and ways to promote them. So, a varietal exhibition and a workshop were held recently in Birbhum to do just that.
To support its objective, STRASA brought together around 140 representatives from seed dealers, seed producers, private seed companies, state seed corporations, nongovernmental organizations, progressive farmers, and others from Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Assam to enhance their knowledge of new stress-tolerant rice varieties.
The on-farm displays featured almost all the stress-tolerant rice varieties released in India along with some popular high-yielding varieties from eastern Indian states. The participants were able to observe the traits of these improved rice varieties.
“Engaging the private sector in the diffusion process is important and sustainable,” said Dr. Manzoor Dar, an IRRI-India development specialist who initiated the idea of bringing together these stakeholders in eastern India. “Delivering these services directly to seed dealers has a greater impact on the spread of new varieties since they have incentives to spread this information to their customers. Increases in the demand for these varieties translate directly to increased profits for dealers.”
The IRRI-STRASA workshop covered various aspects of the seed supply chain to help the private sector develop better seed markets and strategies for scaling-up the varieties’ production and adoption. During the workshop, Dr. Gary Atlin, (third from right in photo) senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, stressed the role of private seed companies and dealers in supplying quality products to the farmers and need to promote climate-resilient rice varieties.
The workshop provided key seed players with a platform to give their feedback.
“We encourage seed dealers and private seed companies to share their experiences and requirements on behalf of the farmers,” said Dr. George Kotch, head of IRRI’s Plant Breeding Division. “This way IRRI breeders can be more effective in meeting the need of the farmers and the market.”
IRRI, through STRASA, is currently working to build the capacity to scale out stress-tolerant rice varieties across South Asia.
“This includes partnerships with local NGOs and private seed companies to ensure adequate and sustainable seed supply and availability,” said Dar. “IRRI-STRASA is forming a platform for all stakeholders in the seed sector who can be part of enhancing the delivery of these varieties in the target areas.”
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