Havoc of COVID-19 and Seed Sector
Seeds, as a fundamental agricultural input, are essential to the development of resilient agricultural sectors and food systems that support food security and nutrition, as well as the livelihoods of farmers and other value chain players. The seed business is really global: A seed lot is likely to travel to many nations for multiplication, manufacturing, processing, and packaging before it reaches farmers. It’s also time-sensitive, with certain times for sowing and harvesting various crops. As a result, governments’ required limitations on movement and transportation to safeguard their citizens against COVID-19 have the potential to have a significant impact on seed production, certification, distribution, and pricing.
Government-imposed limitations on mobility to safeguard citizens from COVID-19 are a concern for all nations, but they are likely to have a bigger impact on poorer countries and least developed countries (LDCs), who have been struck especially hard by the economic slump. These countries are also more reliant on agriculture as a primary source of income, as well as a critical source of domestic food security.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to have a significant impact on seed production, certification, distribution, and cost in least developed countries, where seeds are critical for establishing resilient agricultural sectors and food systems.
- Reduced availability and expense of transportation; fewer staff available for production, shipping, and documentation procedures; and a contraction in the market for plants and seeds are causing issues in terms of seed production for international commerce as well as access to high-quality seed of modern kinds for domestic agriculture.
- Moving and shipping restrictions may limit seed availability on the international market, and when costs increase, countries like Nepal; LDC’s may find it difficult to compete for access.
Problems on seed production and farmers
Farmers and agricultural laborers are unsung heroes whose tales have mostly gone untold. Farmers are continually at risk from climatic calamities such as irregular rainfall, high temperatures, and drought. COVID-19 is a serious danger after December 2019. Since pandemic breakouts have increased obligations to combat global food insecurity, farmers’ shoulders have become extremely heavy. Farmers are debating whether or not to begin planting and how much to plant at this point, since they are forced to keep their unsold product for extended periods of time, leading to a reduction in food quality as well as an increase in the cost of production, as agriculture produce are mostly perishable in nature. At the same time, outburst of Locusts occurred that lead to the disastrous loss of crops and seeds.
Crop insurance is the new technique that helps farmers ensure their crops from bearing an irreparable loss. Exploration of local seeds and adaptation of local planting methods in order to cope with the pandemic. Reduction in the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers as the import has been restricted. Inclination towards organic method of cultivation. Bio pesticides and bio fertilizers are proved to have become the boon of nature. There are three typical resource mobilization or consumption reduction coping methods for smallholder farmers in underdeveloped nations. The first category includes changes in behavior, such as putting in more hours, diversifying agricultural portfolios, lowering consumption, and substituting crops. The second option is for better-off farmers to liquidate assets or spend their savings. A third option is to seek help from the outside, such as through social networks or government programs.
Problems on seed business and solutions
The abrupt restriction on the movement of crops and seeds (including the extra legal elements) had the most immediate and significant impact on Nepal’s agricultural systems of all the actions implemented in reaction to the COVID-19 epidemic. Wheat production in terai and maize in hills dominate most fields in Nepal during the Rabi harvest season in April. Farms around the country were intensively engaged in harvesting spring crops at the same time as the March shutdown. The lockdown, on the other hand, caused a rapid change in the movement of commodities, effectively stopping it from one day to the next. Grains and vegetables continued to mature in the fields throughout the lockdown due to a shortage of storage among middle-class farmers in particular, causing some of this year’s crop to be destroyed. Similarly, the lockdown prevented most local mandis from operating normally, and the Nepal government promptly halted large-scale purchase operations. Non availability of improved seeds, high demand and low supply.
The COVID-19 pandemic also revealed the importance of identifying, collecting, conserving, and researching indigenous crops, and other useful plants, as well as promoting the resilience aspects of subsistence farming, particularly in the hills and mountains, in order to achieve resiliency in the face of future shocks caused by climate or pandemics, while also promoting commercial or semi-commercial farming. The pandemic has taught policymakers the need of making provisions for unforeseen vulnerabilities, particularly the necessity to maintain a larger supply of seeds on hand. Broadening the concept and infrastructures of Community Seed Banks(CSB).
Solutions to seed policy constraints
There is yet no systematic effect evaluation of COVID-19 on poverty, food security, and wellbeing in the country, except from UNDP (2020). Based on panel discussions, field observation, and information gathered from key informants and secondary sources, the study identified several critical areas for policy options and institutional mechanisms to address such challenges. Nepal has a number of active agricultural and food security programs that stress the right to food. These policies, according to key sources and discussants, did not foresee calamities like the COVID-19 pandemic, and hence there were no plans in place to cope with such a crisis. The 2018 Right to Food and Food Sovereignty Act, as well as the Zero Hunger Policy, give significant support for SDGs 1–2, but they lack clear action plans to enhance food and seeds availability, access, and utilization, as well as measures to cope with crises such as epidemics or natural disasters. Aside from improving the safety net, Nepal has to boost food production in smallholders by providing sufficient inputs and developing marketing networks that can function even in the face of a catastrophe.
With the ongoing second variant of coronavirus, the consequences are deadly. However, the farmers, policy makers of seed sectors have been learning by experiences and by doings to cope with the effects and to acquaintance us with daily supply of essential goods, seeds. Community Seed Banks (CSB) have flourished and been operated actively to fulfill seed requirements of local people in local level.