Government bringing seed exchange policy
The government is preparing a policy paper to provide an exchange facility of agriculture seeds among various countries. The policy also aims to provide benefit to seed cultivating farmers.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture Development, the policy paper to be submitted to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) will help access the Gene Banks of International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources (ITPGRFA). About 126 countries have signed the ITPGRFA Treaty.
“The policy paper is necessary to import and research on seeds,” said joint secretary of the ministry Dr Hari Dahal. “It will also benefit farmers once Nepali seeds are exported.” Nepal Agriculture Research Council, Local Initiative for Biodiversity, Research and Development, and Biodiversity International have been drafting the policy paper to submit final paper to FAO in 2013. “After it is submitted, Nepal can get easy access to seeds produced in member countries. We can import suitable seeds and cultivate them,” said agriculture economist Devendra Gautam.
“Farmers will directly benefit from seeds exported under the treaty,” he said, adding that it will boost the exchange of seeds of food grains.
The ministry has directed Gene Bank, which collects record of biodiversity in Nepal, to operate the treaty. However, treaty will not be effective unless the government revises existing Agriculture Biodiversity Policy. Likewise, some laws facilitating multisector exchange of seeds need to be promulgated.
According to Gautam, the country has to include technology transfer, farmers access to biodiversity, and benefit distribution channel in the policy paper. “Without fulfilling these obligations we will not be able to benefit from the treaty,” he said. To access the ITPGRFA, the country has to register all its seeds at Gene Bank and open their access to member countries.