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National Seed Accelerator Network Formalized to Enhance Seed Systems in South Asia at Seed Accelerator Meet 1.0

This initiative, highlighted at the IRRI-hosted Seed Accelerator Meet 1.0, aims to overcome challenges in varietal turnover and improve access to superior seed varieties for South Asian farmers.

KJ Staff
National Seed Accelerator Network Formalized to Enhance Seed Systems in South Asia at Seed Accelerator Meet 1.0 (Photo Source: IRRI)
National Seed Accelerator Network Formalized to Enhance Seed Systems in South Asia at Seed Accelerator Meet 1.0 (Photo Source: IRRI)

At ISARC’s Seed Accelerator Meet 1.0, key stakeholders in the national seed systems formalized the National Seed Accelerator Network to promote cooperation and streamline the seed supply chain. This initiative aims to connect seed scaling institutions with breeding networks to accelerate the production and distribution of quality-assured seeds.  

The IRRI South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC) recently hosted the Seed Accelerator Meet 1.0, a strategic engagement that brought together key players to discuss persistent challenges in South Asia's seed systems. Agricultural innovation in the region, particularly in rice cultivation, is hindered by the stagnation of varietal turnover. Despite the continuous efforts of breeding institutions, a limited number of varieties dominate the seed chain, restricting the adoption of newer, potentially superior varieties. This stagnation curtails the impact of breeding programs and limits farmers' access to improved seeds and technologies.

In response to these challenges, IRRI and its partners have developed the "One Rice Breeding strategy," a comprehensive, demand-based market segment and product-driven approach. This strategy focuses on accelerating varietal turnover and enhancing seed access for smallholder farmers. Central to this approach is the thorough evaluation of new products across different market segments and breeding pipelines through rigorous on-farm testing using the TRICOT (Triadic Comparison of Technologies) layout. These replicated trials provide crucial insights into product performance, genetic gains, and comparative advantages over existing varieties.

Facilitated by ISARC's Robust Seed System unit, the meeting included discussions with stakeholders like ICAR-SAU-KVK networks and NGOs to identify high-performing varieties and promote their adoption through seed production and large-scale demonstrations.

These collaborations aim to empower farmers and foster sustainable development. The discussions also explored the potential of community-led seed enterprises, with the overarching goal of redesigning existing programs and policies to better serve farmers and seed stakeholders, ultimately enhancing seed systems nationwide.

During the event, the Seed Product Diary was launched. This diary contains comprehensive information on genetic gains, benchmarks, and advantages over local varieties, enabling seed businesses to make informed decisions about integrating new products into their supply chains.

The Seed Accelerator Meet 1.0 marks a significant step in South Asian agricultural innovation, promoting collaboration and knowledge-sharing to drive varietal turnover and sustainable agricultural development. Such events act as catalysts for innovation, paving the way for a more resilient and sustainable agricultural future in the region.

The event was supported by the CGIAR SeedEqual Initiative. Research results and findings also drew from key projects such as the BMGF-Accelerated Genetic Gain in Rice and the USAID-Bayer-ScaleDirect, which support large-scale on-farm testing of rice inbreds across diverse market segments, particularly in rainfed unfavorable ecosystems and newly introduced direct-seeded systems.

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