Business mentoring contributes to the growth of small and wheat seed enterprises in Nepal

Narayan Khanal


CIMMYT International, South Asia, Regional Office, Kathmandu

Gurbinder Gill, Madan Bhatta, Andrew McDonald, Arun Joshi

    



The experience of seed system development works in Nepal shows that lack of business orientation is one of the key challenges for the growth of Nepalese seed enterprises (SEs). We implemented a business mentorship activity focusing on SEs in the project - Cereal System Initiative for South Asia. The business mentoring (BM) was implemented covering 10 SEs during 2014 to 2017 using discovery sensitization and facilitation mode. The key actions were, SWOT analysis, mentorship to develop strategic business plan, technical facilitation for seed quality improvement through maintenance breeding and on-farm farmer participatory trials as well as large plot demonstrations of recently released and pre-released wheat varieties. This resulted in 45% average increase in the volume of seed sold by individual SEs in three years. Five SEs started maintenance breeding in wheat and by third year, over 50% of the seed sold by the enterprises consisted of newly released varieties compared to 20% before mentoring. The improved performance of SEs prompted seed quality control authority of Nepal to issue a license to two of these private seed companies for maintenance breeding cum foundation seed production. As a consequence, foundation seed production of these entities increased by 60% in three years, and two of them have also started maintenance breeding in rice from 2017. The facilitation in developing business plan by SEs helped them to attract financial resources from different sources in upgrading seed processing, storage and laboratory facilities. Moreover, the National Wheat Research Program of Nepal has proposed the release of a new wheat variety BL 4341 through integration of on-farm trials and seed production data of these SEs. This new variety is resistant to major diseases, yields 7% higher than the popular cultivar NL 297 which was released 32 years ago and needed replacement due to susceptibility to wheat rusts