Farmers’ seed systems in Nepal: review of national legislations

Farmers’ seed systems in Nepal: review of national legislations

Seed regulatory frameworks in Nepal were reviewed from the perspective of farmers’ seed systems. Nepal has formulated 17 policy instruments (including draft bills) since 1988 when the first Seed Act came into effect. Of these, 16 are either on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, or on seed or related to overall agriculture development in Nepal. Three out of 17 are actually draft bills: the first was formulated in 2002, the second in 2008 and the third is still in progress. The important finding from this policy review is that there are not any policy instruments which may be hindering or undermining farmers’ seed systems. Policy and practices both have been mostly supportive or at least neutral to informal seed systems and as a result Nepalese seed systems enjoy great flexibility. Efforts made to strengthen decentralised seed production and provisioning initiatives in Nepal led by Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (LI-BIRD) with International collaboration proved to be fruitful in strengthening farmers’ seed systems. However, due to the lack of analytical capability of public sector organisations, inappropriate polices were developed which failed to create intended changes in the seed systems. Policies and legislations in Nepal were developed without rigorous analysis of the overall socioeconomic landscape, agricultural situation and livelihood strategies including migration. Political instability (for over two decades) is equally to be blamed for adding up inappropriate policy instruments, in particular strategies and visions were changed too frequently which is evidenced by the fact that 50 percent of all the policy instruments formulated in the last three decades were related to strategies and visions for agriculture and seed systems development in the country. This is because every new government loves to be popular by introducing new polices and guidelines. It was learnt that fast changing coping strategies of marginal and smallholder farmers (87%) will also have important implications including on farmers’ seed systems. Effort to improve the analytical capability of public as well as private sector stakeholders will have high returns from agriculture sector in the country. Based on the analysis, a number of policy recommendations have been suggested for strengthening farmers’ seed systems in Nepal.

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