Farmers’ ability to meet current and future demand for wheat is hampered by the slow dissemination and popularization of released varieties in South Asia and Africa. The Seed objective will address the major bottleneck between the time that elite lines are identified on an experiment station and the time that the variety is grown in farmers’ fields. Since seed multiplication usually starts only once a variety is registered, this process can take 5 to 8 years. One approach is to initiate pre-release seed multiplication at the time a breeding line is submitted for registration trials, which can shorten the period by two years. More importantly, it provides protection from rust and other diseases and enhanced yield potential to farmers two years earlier. Pre-release seed multiplication is often not done, since there is the risk a line will be dropped from registration trials due to poor performance. Another approach will be to select best (not more than 5) lines from CIMMYT and ICARDA’s international yield trials based on yield performance, general adaptation (height and maturity) and resistance to diseases for promotion in regional yield trials conducted by NARS cooperators. These lines have been already intensively tested by CIMMYT and ICARDA for yield potential, disease resistance, and end-use quality. Outstanding performance relative to local checks warrants inclusion in regional trials. This can shorten the usual testing period by 2 years since the lines skip preliminary and 1-year yield trial testing. This approach will be done initially on a line-by-line basis under consideration of urgency and feasibility in targeted countries. In South Asia an enhanced public-private seed dissemination system will reduce redundancies and gain efficiencies from a market-based approach.
Special approach will be taken for earthquake-affected districts in Nepal to replace older varieties in farmers’ fields with agronomically superior seed and rust resistant varieties, through fast track variety testing and release created by accelerated multilateral plant breeding, and delivered through optimized developing country seed sectors.
In order to create accessibility to quality certified wheat seed to smallholder farmers in the region, the DGGW project will focus on developing a seed village model in Nepal. Activities will focus in Nepal at the Agriculture and Forestry University with the construction of a seed processing unit and the training of personnel to multiply and distribute Foundation and Breeder Seed. Under this model, AFU will engage small farmers in wheat seed multiplication and production. AFU will have access to superior wheat germplasm with traits for increased productivity and disease resistance that will be provided to the smallholder farmers for seed multiplication. The harvested seed from the farmers will be routed back to the university, where the seed will be processed in the seed-processing unit that would be funded through the DGGW project. The wheat seed after processing and treatment will be distributed to the farmers through the university extension system and also through small private seed enterprises in the region.