3-Day Program on “Regional Exposure Visit for Partnership to Strengthening of Community Based Seed System in South Asia” held at National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) – Islamabad

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3-Day Program on “Regional Exposure Visit for Partnership to Strengthening of Community Based Seed System in South Asia was held on 5-7 November 2019 at National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC), Islamabad- Pakistan. The program was jointly organized by SAARC Agriculture Center (SAC), Dhaka, Asian Farmers Association (AFA), and Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC).

The event was opened by Dr. Muhammad Hashim Popalzai, Secretary to Government of Pakistan for Ministry of National Food Security & Research (NFSR) and Dr. Rudra B. Shrestha, Senior Program Specialist, SAARC Agriculture Centre, Dhaka. Other international speakers were Mst. Shazada Begum, Chairperson, Asian Farmers Association (AFA), Ma. Estrella Penunia, Secretary General, AFA.Director General of NARC welcomed the distinguished guests and expressed that in order to facilitate country-led growth, there is a need to expand research activities for strengthening informal seed systems into other communities and countries, however, it goes beyond concerns about informal and formal seed system linkages, to bigger debates about the contribution of informal seed systems to local, regional, and global food security.

Addressing to the inaugural Ceremony, Mr. Rudra Bahodur Shrestha, Sr. Program Specialist, SAARC Agriculture Centre (SAC), Dhaka said that the Community Seed Banks give farmers access and control over seeds and strengthen local seed supply systems. With CBSS, farmers are able to raise their productivity, thus reducing their hunger months, enhancing their cropping system resilience and ultimately increasing their income from the sale of seed so it should be noted that main purpose of CBSS is to enhance seed security. This scale up is critical to enhancing food security, preserving biodiversity, and facilitating the sustainable development of these rural agro-ecosystems, she added.

The main purpose of the event was to discuss the Strengthening of Community Based Seed System in South Asia. National focal points/experts of this program elaborated the program activities. The Farmers were also invited to present the best practices of Community Based Seed System (CBSS).

President ECO Science Foundation (ECOSF) Prof. Manzoor H. Soomro also attended the program as an invited speaker and Session Chair. During the Session moderated by the President ECOSF, Ma.Estrella Penunia, Secretary General, AFA highlighted the community engagement on seed sovereignty for Resilient Agriculture in South Asia (2018 Program in Dakha) and Dr. Sadaruddin Siddiqui, Director BCI shared the genetic resource management in Pakistan.

Dr. Soomro in his concluding remarks emphasized on the importance of traditional and indigenous knowledge on seed conservation and production and suggested the forum to document and share that knowledge from across the SAARC countries for the benefit of especially the small farmers for their sustainable livelihoods.

It was a high level seed forum for policy guiding to community seed systems and easy access to improved seeds to the small holder farmers. CBSS is an informal arrangement wherein members of farming community or a group follows a collective system of producing, exchanging and selling good quality seeds especially in times of disaster.

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