Seed System Innovations in the Semi-Arid Tropics of Andhra Pradesh uri icon

abstract

  • The power of a seed is unlimited. As a powerful agent of change, seeds can bea means of overcoming production constraints, thereby making a differencein the lives of the poor and hungry. This requires seed demand and supply tobe balanced by way of a secure seed supply system. This would give farmersaccess to adequate quantities of good quality seed of the desired type at therequired time and at affordable cost.Seeds are key components in the conservation and ownership of biodiversity.Accordingly, sustainable seed supply and implementation of seed security areamong the major activities outlined in the Global Plan of Action for theConservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources forFood and Agriculture. Seeds therefore represent hope for the future ofmankind.Throughout our history, farmers? informal seed systems have had a greatinfluence on the evolution of modern agriculture, by practising conservationof agrobiodiversity at the gene, farmer and ecosystem levels. Within thisframework, women in particular have played a crucial role, as has beenidentified by a recent analysis, in sustaining the informal seed sector, andmore widely, in ensuring food security. However, informal seed systems areheavily dependent on local resources and inputs, and highly vulnerable tonatural disasters and sociopolitical disruptions. Therefore, investing in arange of appoaches in order to strengthen local seed systems assumes greaturgency.While the formal hybrid seed industry led by the private sector has tended tofocus on profit-making species and crops, the informal sector hasconcentrated on crops ? mainly self- or open-pollinated varieties ? that arecrucial to local food production systems. Given such a scenario, national seedpolicies concludes helping to strengthen the informal sector. Internationalsupport too continues to be mainly engaged with the formal sector. Perhapsmatching support is required to encourage continued development ofinformal seed systems.In this context, the concept of ?seed villages?, which advocates selfsufficiencyin production and distribution of good quality seed, is fast gainingground. Seed villages, or village seed banks, operate under supervision andutmost transparency, inculcating mutual trust and social responsibilityamong farmers, thereby reducing their dependence on external inputs.Several initiatives have been launched to revive this traditional concept, suchas those initiated by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), theNational Research Centre for Sorghum (NRCS) and state agriculturaluniversities (SAUs). Similarly, the seed bank concept is part of ICRISAT?sprojects in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Tata-ICRISAT project in Vidisha and Guna districts of Madhya Pradesh and theAndhra Pradesh Rural Livelihoods Project (APRLP) in Kurnool district inAndhra Pradesh and other ongoing efforts in the states of Maharashtra andKarnataka.In low-rainfall, dryland agricultural areas, cereals and legumes serve the dualpurpose of providing food and income for poor farmers and fodder for theircattle. Given the critical role played by improved varieties in increasingconventional crop production, a key question arises: how do we facilitate thedevelopment of an integrated and cost-effective seed system that is capableof generating, producing and distributing improved seed varieties that meetthe needs of resource-poor farmers?This book is an attempt to review and document the existing seedmultiplication and delivery systems in four dryland agricultural districts ofAndhra Pradesh: Anantapur, Kurnool, Mahbubnagar and Nalgonda. Whileanalyzing the problems associated with different seed systems in thesedistricts, the book makes a strong case for strengthening alternative seedsystems and seed delivery models that address the needs of small farmers inthe context of constantly changing dynamics on the national, international,political and socioeconomic fronts.I am sure this book will be a valuable reference source for those engaged instrengthening local seed systems as a step toward food security in the semiaridtropics of India

publication date

  • 2007

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