Strengthening seed systems in Eastern Uttar Pradesh

Data and demand-driven varietal advancement through potential seed networks is at the core of the Rice Breeding Innovations Platform of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

As part of this mission, the IRRI Seed System team and IRRI Education organized a two-day varietal cafeteria field day at the IRRI South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC). The goal was to observe and assess the comparative performance of seed varieties among the seed system stakeholders in the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh. 

A group of 85 seed growers, women farmers, representatives of departments of agriculture, seed producers, public and private seed suppliers, distributors, and researchers convened to evaluate the quality of 36 varieties during the event, which was held on 14-15 November 2022. 

ISARC Director Dr. Sudhanshu Singh welcomed Dr. Akhilesh Kumar Singh, Deputy Director of the Agriculture Government of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh and the participants and gave an overview of the event .

Dr. Swati Nayak, Seed System and Product Management Lead for South Asia, emphasized the importance of the field day and presented the evaluation process.  “I encourage everyone to closely observe and evaluate the varieties, considering the production and marketing aspects. A better production will ensure both food security, marketable surplus and a good market-worthy variety that could give a better premium through market demand,” said Dr. Nayak. She also gave the assurance of advancing the promotion and dissemination of these varieties across all potential seed channels.

Considering the local demand and the potential of the varieties, the evaluators ranked the demonstrated varieties based on key phenotypic traits and estimated yield. Telangana Sona, Swarna Samridhi, Chattisgarh Devbhog, BRRI dhan 75, Rajendra Kasturi, Swarna sub 1, and NDR 2065 were identified as the top-ranked varieties.Such above efforts to position new products in a more participatory manner has tremendous potential to enhance the varietal replacement rate and overall productivity. There are numerous varieties with better genetics being bred in research centers to serve the diverse interest of farmers; however, the diffusion and adoption of those newly released varieties are slow-paced. As a result, the benefits of varietal research do not reach the target growers at optimum owing to multiple and complex reasons. One of the major cited reasons is inadequate knowledge about the newly developed varieties and their inappropriate positioning in rice-growing ecologies.

In the coming seasons, the IRRI South Asia Seed System Team looks forward to exploring and expediting the process of seed diffusion of these top-ranked varieties through farmers’ collectives and input dealers’ networks. These varieties will also be used in farmer cluster demonstrations for large-scale awareness and dissemination, and to speed up adoption.