Nayakrishi Beez Shongho: Training on Challenges of Seed Conservation

 Healthy local seed is the key to ensure the natural and bio-productive foundation of the community. Nayakrishi Seed Network organized a training program to operationalize this principle of Nayakrishi Seed Network in Ridoypur Biddaghor, Tangail,  during 13 to 15 May, 2018. The objectives were sharing the experiences of management and operation of the Community Seed Wealth Centers (CSWC) and the Seed Huts(SD) and identify strategic conceptual questions for learning by solving problems and on management issues.  The anticipated outcome was to develop practical strategies to strengthen farmer's seed system. The specific objective was further improving the technical and organizational aspects of collection, maintenance and use of planting materials for food and other needs.

The following report is a summary of the issues addressed in the training and its outcomes. It was also an exercise in developing a practical and effective training module for farmers.

Background Information

Operation and management of Nayakrishi's Community Seed Wealth Centers (CSWC) and Seed Huts (SH) have always been a challenge to biodiversity based community farming. In the past farmers have achieved significant progress through innovation and creative ways to collect, conserve and reproduce planting materials that has strengthened farmer's seed system, particularly to achieve seed and food sovereignty at the household and community level. Operationally the key to success had been in enhancing the role of CSWCs and Seed Huts as nodal points of Nayakrishi Seed Network.

CSWCs and SHs are not merely physical places where germplasm are stored and regenerated but embedded in day to day living relationship of the farming community with their environment and ecological setting to ensure their biological existence. This is ensured by the members of Nayakrishi Seed Network.

In other words, the striking character of CSWCs and SHs is visible in their capacity to augment the dynamic and cyclic relation between in situ and ex situ conservation of planting materials that make farming possible, sustainable and gainful. Gainful not only in economic earnings, enabling farmers to engage in the market, but also in enhancing the capacity to reproduce and enhancing the biological and ecological foundation of farming activities. Farming households can generate almost all the required inputs from the farming itself as part of the total yield.

Nevertheless, the seed and genetic resource conservation as an integral component of farming has its unique challenges.

Community Seed Wealth Centers (CSWC) is the institutional set up located in one of the Biddaghors (Learning centers) of UBINIG (Policy Research for Development Alternative) for seed collection, storage, preservation, distribution, exchange and regeneration. The tasks of the CSWCs also include documentation and maintenance of overall information of the area.

The construction of CSWs is based on two principles: (a) they must be built from locally available construction materials and (b) the maintenance should mirror the household seed conservation practices. Any difficulty encountered in the CSW reflects the problem farmers are facing in their household conservation.

The Nayakrishi Seed Network (NSN), known as the Nayakrishi Beez Shongho in Bangla, is the active farmers' network within Nayakrishi Andolon with specific responsibility of ensuring collection, conservation, distribution and enhancement of seeds/germplasms among the members of Nayakrishi Andolon. They ensure both in-situ conservation of biodiverse life-forms and genetic resource in the farming field and ex-situ conservation of germplasm at the household and community level. The Nayakrishi Seed Network (NSN) builds on the farming household, the focal point for in-situ and ex-situ conservation. Women farmers are the key actors and leaders in the NSN. In addition, Specialized Women Seed Network (SWSN) is also entirely comprised of women farmers. The leadership of women farmers in seed conservation and community seed wealth centers is almost natural, but is important to have their own sphere of knowledge practice to keep feminine wisdom free from patriarchal domination [ for more see]. CSWCs are run as the apex body of the Nayakrishi Seed Network linked with the Seed Huts (known as Beez Akhra) at the village level, run by farmers themselves

The staff members of UBINIG are responsible for the operation of the CSWCs, however, CSWCs are part of the Nayakrishi Seed Network; therefore farmers’ representatives participate in the decisions of the CSWC. Any member of the Nayakrishi Andolon can collect seed from CSWC with the promise that they will deposit at least double the quantity they received after the harvest. Farmers can claim the deposited specie or a variety any time they want. A farming household can decide not to replant a specie or a variety in a season but may come back after two to three years for the same.

Setting the Theme of the Training

Every meeting of farmers started with a self-composed song of Akkas Ali, a Nayakrishi farmer well known for his Nayakrishi songs, including the one with 127 names of local variety of rice. Akkas presented his 559th song on the theme of the event. He has also composed a song with 127 names of local variety of rice.

ওরে ভাই কেমনতরো চুরি
আমার দেশের বীজ নিয়া হচ্ছে কারিগরি
হচ্ছে কারিগরি ভাইগো হচ্ছে টেকনোলজি
আমার দেশের বীজ নিয়া হচ্ছে কারিগরি।

Ore bhai, kemontoro churi
Amar desher biz ney korche karigori
Hocche karigori bhai go hocche technology
Amar desher biz ney korche karigori

Akkas is expressing the major concern of the farming community with regard to biopiracy. Interestingly his concern is not only the illegal transfer of germplasm from Bangladesh to other countries including genebanks, but the way seed companies are using 'raw materials' from farmers to breed proprietary varieties to deceive both the farmers and the idea of invention. Technology plays here as means to appropriate the seeds and associated knowledge that rightfully belong to farming communities.

So the overriding theme of the training program was to appreciate the role of Nayakrishi Seed Network the best safeguard against biopiracy and to ensure farmer's right not as legal or legislative means but by the very design of organization and operation of NSN.

Reporting about CSWCs

In the beginning, Staff members responsible for CSWCs and SHs presented their reports.

Community Seed Wealth Center (Tangail)

Fahima Khatun Liza is in charge of the Community Seed Wealth Center at Ridoypur Biddaghor. She is a researcher and a community organizer. She reported about the seed collections and research activities carried out under the center.

Beez shampad kendra has 1,754 accessions of paddy, collected from different parts of Bangladesh. There are 161 varieties seeds of vegetables, oil, pulses. The emphasis on research on few crops resulted in collection of 47 varieties of beans, 16 varieties of brinjals and 8 varieties of chili. The detailed information on these crops have been collected and documented.

The research on beans revealed interesting information. Nine varieties have been selected as tolerant to water logging. Narshingdi variety is very tasty. Kartik bean collected from Noakhali comes early and tasty.

Brinjal: Bhita Begun, Mukta Begun, Kaika Begun were collected from Jamalpur.

Chili: Seven varieties of chili are experimented to decide their suitability in flood plain ecosystms. Tangail also initiated cultivation of selected sweet Capsicum since they can add value to economic returns to farming families. Two varieties have been is successfully cultivated in Tangail center.

Other vegetable crops such as a specific variety of Sweet gourd Boidyabati was cultivated with good result. Four varieties of Sponge Gourd were collected. A Ridged gourd variety “Choishira jhinga” is very tasty.

Among tomatoes Bon cherry tomato is very tasty.

It has been decided that ash gourd, sponge gourd and bean seeds to be distributed from the Beez Shompad Kendro among the farmers.

There are 5 Seed Huts linked to the Ridoypur (Tangail) Community Seed Wealth Center. The Seed Huts are known as

1. Mamudpur Beez Akhra (Seed Hut) has 7 varieties of rice, vegetables 30 varieties/species, pulses 5 varieties, oil seeds 4 varieties, spices 7 kinds, cereal crops 5 kinds. About 300 farming households are reached through the seed hut.

2. Lawhati Beez Akhra has 5 varieties of rice, vegetables 21 species/varieties, pulses 4 varieties, spices 5 species. About 500 farming households in 4 villages are reached through this seed hut

3. Babupur Beez Akhra has 8 varieties of rice, vegetables 22 species/varieties, pulses 3 varieties, oil seeds 3 varieties, spices 6 varieties/species and cereal crops 5 species/varieties. About 350 households in 4 villages are reached through this seed hut.

4. Fazilhati Beez Akhra has 4 rice varieties, 27 vegetables species/varieties, pulses 3 varieties/species, oilseeds 3 species/varieties, spices 6 species/varieties and cereal crops 4 varieties. About 200 farming households in 4 villages are reached through this seed hut.

This was a short reporting on the CSW and the Seed Huts.

Community Seed Wealth Center in Ishwardi (Pabna)

Azmira Begum, Coordinator of Arshinagar Biddhaghor is also in-charge of the Community Seed Wealth Centre. She reported about Rice research, which is a prime activity of the CSWC. Here they have 420 varieties of rice. In addition CSWC is maintaining seeds of threatened varieties of other crops. Bean (Shim) is one of the very important crops mostly cultivated in the Ishwardi on commercial basis. Because of aggressive marketing of commercial varieties farmers farmers not belonging to Nayakrishi becoming dependent commercial hybrid varieties. But Pabna region had many local varieties. CSWC 33 varieties of beans in their collection. Few varieties were brought from Cox’sbazar. These are Noldong, loita shim, vutta shim and Tiktiki shim.

Eighteen (18) varieties of brinjal collected cultivated and maintained in CSWC. Among these, Akbori, Ghritokanchan are very good quality brinjal and suitable for Iswardi area. CSWC is regenerating 21 varieties of brinjal. Nine tomato varieties were collected, cultivated and maintained. Chili and Capsicum (long, round) are maintained.

Water gourd, sweet gourd and bottle gourd are being cultivated on in container bags (bosta). Tepaboro is grown this season, expected yield is 20-30 maund / biga. About 24,000 farmers are attached with the Arishnagar Community Seed Wealth Center.

Three Seed Huts represented in the training. These are

1. Parashidai Seed Akhra: 150 varieties maintained including Dhal digha rice. About 300 farming households are reached through this seed hut

2. Rajendrapur Seed Akhra: 218 varieties including rice, medicinal plants, flowers, oil seeds are maintained. Kartikshail, Kalpat, Hijaldigha, Hasha boron rice are maintained for last 12 years. I have saved many threatened rice varieties . Kalpat, Kolamocha have been regenerated. About 800 farming households are reached through this seed hut.

3. Krishnopur: 90 varieties are maintained including Hidi. Hidi is a very important rice variety, considered as essential for the farming families. A common rhyme goes like this,

যদি না থাকে হিদি
গুষ্ঠি রাখবা কী দি?

Jodi na thake Hidই
Gushti rakhba ki di

[ tr. How your family and kin could survive if you have no Hidi Variety?)

About 260 farming households are reached through this seed hut

In both the Community Seed Wealth Centers, the research on regeneration of seed varieties particularly to enhance the varieties and to maintain the threatened varieties was highlighted.

farmer speaking

Farmer Rohijan from Parasidhai Seed Hut is speaking about her collection of seeds and the activities with farmers.

Community Seed Wealth Centre in Akhrabari, Kushtia

Doly Bhadra, Coordinator of Akhra bari centre in Kushtia reported on the Community Seed Wealth Centre located in Cheuria opposite to Lalon Shrine. The centre lacks enough land for regeneration of seeds. However, there are 433 varieties of seeds including 325 rice varieties collected from farmers in Kushtia and other places. There is one seed Akhra was established at Nandalalpur. There are 57 varieties of rice, 5 varieties of pulse and 32 varieties of vegetables. About 100 farming household received seed from this Seed Akhra. Kushtia Seed wealth Centre is very well located for demonstration of Nayakrishi activities and works of Community Seed Centers in other centre. There are two important festivals of Lalon that is held in the area, in which hundreds of thousands of Lalon followers from all over the country visit the shrine. During that time, Akhrabari organizes seed festival with participation of farmers from Tangail, Pabna, Natore and from Kushtia. This gives an opportunity to the Nayakrishi farmers to share knowledge about the need for preservation of local variety seeds and to demonstrate the collections.

Conceptual Issues

Farmers Variety

Nayakrishi farmers collect, conserve and reproduce seeds from the field, they call it 'jat' in Bangla. Farhad Mazhar discussed in detail the significance of farmers varieties and related knowledge practice that can never be substituted by institutional research, breeding or other formal scientific practices. Farmer's variety is obviously different from the pure line developed by the breeders or scientists for breeding purposes. Farmer's variety is key to design an ecological setting particularly of interest to farming families, i.e. ensuring returns of maximum productivity in specific agro-ecological conditions. Although farmers are aware of the broader roles they play in conservation of biological diversity they are relatively less aware of the role of farmer's management practices, in addition to other factors such as environment and the breeding system of plant, in evolution and maintenance of discrete farmer's varieties. To overcome this relatively less addressed area repeated discussion in training modules is very much necessary. Farmers are not always aware how particular seedmanagement system has impication for the best performnce of a specific farming system.

Expression of a trait of a variety is directly dependent on local condition. It is important to train the farmers that a variety they collect from a different agro-ecological condition may not perform the same way as she expected based on the experience of the farmers from where the planting material had been collected. Secondly, potentiality of a variety is never exhausted and agro-ecological conditions are related often to the knowledge practices of the local farmers. Therefore, CSWCs always encourage farmers to select from the species and varieties accordingly and document their performance. Historically farmers have been doing this practice to deal with normal climatic variability and disasters. This has become more important now due to climate change vulnerabilities. Therefore appropriate selection of cyclone, flood, drought and heat resistant varieties from planting materials available in CSWCs is very important. While CSWCs must collect seeds from all over Bangladesh and try them in different agro-ecological conditions, developing the capacity to select seed for appropriate ecological conditions is very vital to demonstrate the importance of CSWCs and SHs.

In every training it is very important to explain the role of the breeders and scientists and the role of the farmers not merely in terms of contribution they make both to agriculture and agricultural research, but to emphasize the distinctively different and crucial role of farmers that cannot be substituted by breeders or scientists. In collecting, conserving and selecting farmer's varieties farmers also documents very specific ecological and local knowledge condition for each and every planting materials. Although official literature admit that facilitating effective links between the 'informal' and 'formal' seed systems is central to the conservation and sustainable use of crop diversity, there is hardly any meaningful gesture in this regard from formal scientific community. Despite the fact that knowledge erosion is a serious international concern of conserving crop diversity. Mainstream research priorities and activities are geared to breeding for commercial or releasing of varieties from private commercial companies or public research institutions. The role of farmer's seed system has been systematically ignored.

In this context it is extremely important to realize the role NSN plays in promoting adoption of different varieties in different agro-ecological conditions.

Increasing farmers’ access to a wider variety of seeds and planting materials can help make them more resilient to shocks and hazards. Facilitating natural adaptations of the local traditional varieties to the prevailing local conditions is crucial to develop locally relevant, improved varieties. When CSWC deals with farmer's varieties, it is at the same time dealing with local agro-ecological condition.

Seeds in the Gene Bank are considered in sleep up condition in cold environment. These seeds are conserved for long time. Seed are saved in the fridge. Seeds maintained by farmer are live and grown annually. These seeds are exposed to changing climatic conditions, therefore evolves with nature. The field of a farmer is a laboratory for mutation and selection of varieties of seeds. The farmers therefore should always look for naturally evolved varieties with new traits and thus enrich the collection of farmer's varieties.

Discussions were held on the need for preserving the seeds and to protect them from piracy.

Seed and Variety

Land race and modern variety

Dr. M. A. Sobhan discussed land races and modern varieties. The base for development of modern varieties is the land race or farmers’ varieties. The farmers had developed the varieties with their own knowledge and have been maintaining for generations. They have made the materials available for the modern breeders to develop new varieties. This is true for the breeders in government sector, companies and non-government organizations. Again the farmers are the main custodian and cultivators of these varieties. Hence, the main credit goes to the farmers. The modern varieties are developed and released using the farmers’ varieties.

Variety is the lowest taxonomic category that ranks below species. In ascending steps it goes up as genus, family, order, class, division and kingdom. What is the variety? A bunch of plants having same size, shape, characteristics and maintaining integrity at regeneration and differing with other varieties in some traits is called a variety. Example: chamara, BRRI dhan-29 etc. are rice varieties. In this way we know the names of many varieties of crop plants. Each and every variety has distinctive characteristics. I was personally involved with jute varietal improvement research. Here I like to mention the names of two varieties Sabuj pat and Ashu pat. The very name sabuj pat indicates that the plants of this variety are green. Similarly Ashu pat means the variety is early. It is ready for harvest within 95 days of sowing. This is true for all other crop varieties. Tulsi mala and chamara varieties of rice have some indication of their attributes. This popular system on naming varieties has been changed. Now varieties are known by number. Example – BR-1, BRRI dhan-80, BINA dhan-19, etc. These numbers do not indicate any characteristic of any variety.

Agriculture had its pleasant beginning about ten thousand year ago in different parts of the globe. And the modern agriculture is about hundred years old. Agricultural research in this country had its formal beginning in 1909 in British period.

Modern agriculture was started in Bangladesh at about the same time elsewhere in developed countries across the globe. Bangladesh agriculture has a traditional heritage same as the global agricultural heritage in developed countries.

In modern agriculture, plant selection is the first step of variety development. Variety development starts with plant selection and also ends in plant selection. Variety selection means selection of desirable variety from among the local varieties. There is another approach of variety introduction. It means introduction of variety from outside the country. Introduction of variety starts with desired characters, experimental production, field trial evaluation and release of variety. Example- PAJAM rice variety. This variety was introduced in this land during Pakistan period. This variety was developed in Malaysia with support from Japan and introduced in Pakistan. The naming was done using PA (for Pakistan), JA (Japan) and M (Malaysia). So it came as PAJAM. One Aman rice variety was introduced from Nizeria and was named Nizer shail. It is popular as fine grain rice. IRRI-8 was introduced in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the Philippines in 1966.

Modern varieties are also developed through hybridization and pedigree selection in subsequent generations. Hybridization is the process of cross pollination between selected parents. Progenies are selected in subsequent generation of production combining desired characters of the parents. Example: IRRI-8. IRRI-8 was selected from the progenies of the cross between DGWG X Peta → IRRI-8. Dwarf rice variety coupling with high tillering was crossed with tall plant having long panicle with many grains. The final selection was dwarf plant many tillers, long panicles and many grains. In this process Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) has so far developed and released 80 high yielding rice varieties. Whatever the method of improvement of variety – hybridization or introduction, variety selection must be continued. Based on the evaluation of the existing varieties, higher yielding, disease pest resistant matching the environment and market demand, desired varieties are selected. The final selection is done in participation of the farmers. For example seed of varieties developed by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute are given to the Department of Agricultural Extension for trail in farmers’ field. The newly developed varieties are tested with the local best. The variety is selected if it out yields the local variety, adapts to the environment better and resists disease pest. In the first step the researcher conducts experiments in own research station for years depending on the type of crop. When it appears better it is extended for multi-location trails for adaptability and superiority. Farmers’ consent is taken and excellent varieties are selected. The steps of evaluation are – attributes of the newly developed varieties are evaluated. The evaluation is done step by step. First step: the researcher conducts experiments in own research station for years depending on the type of the crop. Second step: multi location trials are conducted for adaptability and superiority. Third step: demonstration trials are conducted under the supervision of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), Seed Certification Agency using the local best variety as control. Fourth step: the next step after release of the variety. Evaluation will be carried out so long the variety will be used for cultivation. Nucleus seed and Breeder seed will be produced and supplied based on demand. This step is called Maintenance Breeding. For example, BRRI dhan -29 has been released for cultivation by the farmers, the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) has been given seed for multiplication of Foundation seed and certified seed. At the same time the the BRRI produces nucleus seed, breeder seed and evaluate for the attribute, for which it was selected.

New varieties are recommended and registered before release. National Seed Board is there for registration of crop varieties. Whether it is Government research institution, Private researcher, Company, NGO or any other organization will submit the new varieties along with relevant information to the National Seed Board for release and registration. The crops in Bangladesh are categorized in two groups: notified and non-notified crops. Notified crops: rice, wheat, jute, potato and sugarcane. Non-notified crops: all other crops excepting the above five crops. For registration of notified crops, applications containing all necessary information about the proposed crop variety are submitted in prescribed form to the Secretary, National Seed Board (NSB). The National Seed Board (NSB) sends the variety to the Seed Certification Agency (SCA) for field testing and demonstration of performance of the variety. Field demonstration of the proposed variety is organized in the projected area of production. The results of the trial are presented before the Technical Committee. If the performance of the variety is satisfactory the National Seed Board approves the variety by Gazette notification with registrations of the variety. In the mean time two tests are conducted including: DUS – Distinct, Uniform and Stable; VCU – Value for Cultivation and Use. For Non-notified crops, application in prescribed form is submitted to Secretary, NSB for release of new varieties. Based on the information provided with the application, without any field trial, the varieties are released. The applicant breeder can multiply, distribute, sell the seeds of the registered variety with ownership.

All the crops in Bangladesh are managed through rules and regulations. The first law on seed was enacted as “Seed Ordinance 1977.” It was amended in 1997 (Seed Act-1997). and 2005. Seed Policy was framed in 1993 and Seed Rule was made in 1998. The Seed Ordinance 1977 was farmer friendly but subsequent rules and policies were company friendly.

We Nayakrishi farmers have not only the responsibility of collecting and maintaining the local varieties of crops but also to maintain the wild relatives of crop species. This is because the genetic resources are essentially important for further survival and continuity of the species. New varieties will emerge out of natural cross pollination with the local varieties and wild relatives of crops. Such changes in crop varieties may happen by natural cross pollination with other varieties or mutation. We know Haripada Kapalik in Jhenaidah has selected a new variant from BRRI-11 rice variety. This gives higher yield than BR-11 variety. As farmers, we have to keep our eyes open and select any plant or variety out-yielding the parent population excelling in other attributes of environmental adaption, disease pest tolerance and quality parameters.

We need to help maintaining physical and biological environment around us. This is important for our existence. This is because the creation is maintained in a balanced and systematic state. If the balance is lost the creation may be at risk.

Farmer's Question: Shukchand, a farmer from Natore, asked, How jute seed can be produced?

M.A. Sobhan: This is an important question. Bangladesh has a rich background of jute variety development since 1909 in the then Bengal Department of Agriculture. Thirty jute varieties were released from the Bangladesh Jute Research Institute. Still it has 9 deshi jute (Corchorus capsulais) and 7 tossa jute (Corchorus olitorius) varieties released recently. These are excellent varieties. Presently, Bangladesh depends on India for jute seed. It needs five thousand tons of jute seed of which four thousand tons are imported from India. The farmers in Bangladesh do not produce jute seed. This is because transplanted aman rice is grown on the same land after the harvest of jute plants in July –August for fiber crop. Previously the farmers would keep about 5% of jute plants from fiber crop field for jute seed production. But now a day the entire jute plot is harvested for fiber and no plant kept for seed production. The entire land is used for transplanted aman rice production.

However, there is an alternative technology for jute seed production. The top of the harvested jute plants may be transplanted in any high land like the seed bed of aman rice after up-rooting the aman rice seedlings or any high land in the homestead area. A small portion of the jute fiver crop field may be offered for seed crop production. It will take to occupy the land for about two months more. It takes about six months to occupy the land for jute seed production from seed to seed.

What is seed?

Plant part that is used for propagation is termed as seed.

Standard seed: Robust seed, all seed of same size and no broken seed; insect infestation and disease infection free and bright in color; cereals including rice, wheat, etc. maximum 12% moisture and the rest of the crops 10% moisture in seed; germination above 80% and the variety liked by the farmers.

There are four factors essential for growth of plants. These are sun light, oxygen, water, and temperature. These factors are also essential for seed germination. Seed may be degraded if these factors are not properly controlled in seed storage. For example: we can put a sample of seed in a pot in open space. There is sun light, oxygen and moisture in air and there is temperature due to sun light. The seed will try to germinate but the condition is not optimum for germination. The stored food and energy will be exhausted; slowly the seed will lose its viability. So if we like to save the seed for long time we need to control the factors that encourage germination. We have to store seeds in such containers that control the entry of light, wind, temperature and moisture. One percent reduction of moisture content of seed doubles seed life. For every 5〫c reduction of storage temperature seed life will be doubled. The moisture content of rice grain is about 20-25% at harvest; the moisture content may be reduced to about 12% by 40 hours of sun drying. Further reduction of moisture content of rice is not possible by sun drying. Properly dried rice seed will maintain viability for six months even packed in gunny bags. Seed may be conserved for long time if moisture, temperature, oxygen and light are controlled. Seed of Lupinus arcticus maintained viability for ten thousand years under rock in the north pole. Seed of one very common uncultivated herb bathua sak (Chenopodium ulbum) maintains viability up to 1000 years in nature. Here we have discussed the factor for long time preservation of seed.

The question of chita (unfilled grain) in hybrid rice came up in course of discussion in hybrid seeds

There is a temperature fluctuation in Boro rice season in some parts of Bangladesh in all most every year. Hybrid rice has narrow genetic base and every hybrid rice have an optimum temperature range for vegetative growth and reproductive development. When temperature falls below the range or exceed the upper limit, crop production faces serious constraints. Changing temperature beyond the optimum range affects development and reduce yield, Boro season hybrid rice suffers from cold as well as high temperature at the flowering time resulting in pollen abortion and consequent unfilled grain (chita). There has been several such incidence of chita in hybrid boro rice in different places of Bangladesh in recent years.

Farmers' knowledge sharing

Farmers shared their knowledge showing the seeds they brought with them in the seed display.

Abdur Rashid, Nallapara (Tangail)

“I cultivated brinjal only with compost and no chemical fertilizer and pesticide applied. Our brinjal is much on demand in the market. We apply ash to control insect infestation. Brinjal is our favorite vegetable.

The knowledge sharing was done through displaying of seeds that they brought with them.

Rina Begum, Mamudpur, Tangail

Chamara rice is common among the farmers. Most farmers have the seeds and they cultivate it in their land. Jhingasail rice is used for puffed rice, Vasha manik used for making popped rice(khoi). Chiniguri is cultivated for polao and payesh, a delicacy for family occasions. Hijal dhiga is good as a boiled rice.

Farmers cultivate Safflower for medicinal use, Sonali maize for khoi and as poultry feed Some spices like Radhuni soj is cultivated in the mixed crop field which is needed for cooking food.

Ash gourd, pea, two varieties of shim, shat potol (Sponge gourd) mustard, radish, rice, ginger seeds are cultivated.

When asked which seeds are most favorite to them, the reply was:

Chamara rice, ash gourd, Chichinga (snake gourd), Tarmuz Lau,(water gourd) Bira law. Sweet gourd is grown as mixed crop with other crops like sweet potato.

Nihar Banu: Rajendrapur Seed Akhra, Natore

Sada kalika rice is cultivated by farmers for making khoi and muri. Vorilota is a deep water aman rice. Kalojira rice is needed for making pithas (cake) and polao. Hidi rice is a high yield local variety rice, very favorite to farmers. Kalabokri is an aus rice variety which can be cultivated as a mixed crop with other rice. Kalamocha is an endangered rice variety; it is available in the seed akhra but not available with other local farmers.

Among vegetables, Sweet Gourd is cultivated, the variety is golap, a round variety and very sweet. Atghoria brinjal is a high yield variety. Shim (hyacinth bean): Kaikla shim very tasty bean. Baromashi shosha (ever bearing cucumber) and Italy garlic is strong like bricks.

The favorite crops are the following:

Chaklet shim (bean) and Taherpuri onion is very favorite. Kalabokri aus rice variety is relay intercropped in Jute field after/ at about the harvest of jute in July/August. Kalojira (Black cumin) grown as a border crop. Khesari is a very easy crop, it does not any care but gives very good return in terms of leafy green used as spinach and for cows, and pulses. It is economic and much less cost of production.

Doli Bhadra, Akhrabari, Kushtia CSW

Chandan dhan and Haron are aromatic rice varieties. Khoiakali is good for rice cake, Topa boro- Used for making muri. Kalamucha, Shilkomol are good for boiled rice

Azmira Khatun Ishwardi Center CSW

Tepaboro is a red rice, good boiled rice, Basmoti is a long grain (Low germination in long time preservation)

Fahima Khatun Liza –Ridoypur Center,Tangail CSW

Among the Sweet Gourd Bira misti kumra is very popular.

Seed Banks in other countries

The seed preservation through Community Seed Banks is practiced in many other countries of the world. Nayakrishi farmers are keen to know about those practices particularly about the containers and pots used for seed. Farida Akhter presented on seed conservation showing pictures of seed containers in other countries. .

Seed Bank in South Africa: Seeds stored in bottles in limited quantity in small bottles. All the glass bottles are of same size. In India, seeds conserved by Navo dhanya in steel containers, and also in earthen pots.

Glass bottles and small jars are used for seeds requiring moisture control. Thick plastic bottles are used for seed storage in Nepal.

Earthen pots are used in India and Nepal. Seeds are stored in open shelves as well in closed shelf. Nayakrishi farmers are using Earthen pots for paddy seeds, glass bottles for vegetable and other seeds.

In all the Seed Huts earthen pots are used for rice seeds and vegetable seeds are stored in glass bottles.

Discussion was also held about the pourousness of the earthen pots called Kola. They talked about the need for perfect drying of the seeds, putting neem leaves and sealing the mouth of the pots with clay mixed with cowdung. The practice of painting the outer sides of the earthen pots is not there among the farmers. They are more concerned about drying the seeds under the sun, which is checked by women keeping the seed between the teeth.

Two dramas on seed situation

Women farmers and male farmers staged two separate short dramas (instantly prepared) on Seed Hut operation and on seed market situation respectively on the evening cultural programme called Dainya Gan. Without any written script, the farmers made their own dialogues and actions. Women farmers showed that in the Seed Hut, they not only come to deposit seeds, return and to exchange but also discuss about their lives, share their sorrows and happiness among each other. This is a social space for them.

On the other hand, the male farmers depicted a very sad situation of deception of the farmers by the Hybrid Seed companies. They showed that the retailers of Hybrid seed promote the seeds by showing shiny pictures of the crops and giving false hopes. But in reality farmers do not get the yield; they incur loss by spending money on pesticides and fertilizers as required by the crop.

It was in the context that in the last year (2017) Tangail farmers experienced unfilled grains (chita) in hybrid rice.

Joy of seed decoration

On the second day, a bright sunny day after a week of intermittent rain accompanied with gusty wind, hail storm and dark sky farmers were found to be busy with decorating the seeds they brought with them.

Inspired by seeing many pictures of seed festivals and seed decorations in other countries, the farmers took initiative to show their creativity. They usually demonstrate the seeds in small earthen pots with names of the crops. They went around and collected leaves of different kinds and decorated the seeds on them. [see the pictures]

Photo session was organized at Bakultala on the stairs on the south of the paired banyan tree. A laminated copy of the photo was given to each farmer after the training as a souvenir. “It is the most precious gift for us” the farmers responded after getting the photo.


Management and Operational issues

The management and operational issues were discussed with examples of the practical experiences of the farmers. It was found that though there are some local variations in the mode of operations, the main policy of Nayakrishi was followed by all the Seed Hut Management Committee in a similar way. It may be mentioned that the training followed the Ronnie Vernooy and Bhuwon Sthapit with Guy Bessette, Bioversity International , Rome, Italy, 2017 Community Seed Banks: Concept and Practice - Facilitator Handbook, Community .

Seed Hut Management

The Seed Women Specialized Committee (SWSC) is responsible for the management of the Seed Huts and to make links with Community Seed Wealth Centers. These women do not call themselves “Experts” as in the formal system, but they know that they specialize in different seeds according to their interest, background and technical capacities. Each Specialized Seed Women has her own selection of seeds and has knowledge about it. The Committee is comprised of ten members in a 6:4 women-men ratio. They meet once in a fortnight or a fixed day of the month. For example in Rajendrapur Seed Hut, they meet on the first third day of the Bengali Calendar month.

They discuss and share information about the crops, any emerging issues such as loss of crops due to floods, drought, water-logging, early or delayed rain etc.

The Management Committee members decide about seed distribution among the farmers and of exchange. Discussions were held for three situations that the committee needs to considered:

1. Seed coming in the Seed Huts

Seed entering seed huts must be: a. Disease free, insect infestation free; b. Matching crop calendar of the locality; c. Estimating the quantity of seed; d. Recording information of the seed donor

2. Seeds going out of Seed Huts

Farmers decide who are entitled to get seed. Usually it is the Nayakrishi farmers who come and ask for seeds. The Non-Nayakrishi farmers also come for specific seeds but they are first asked if they use pesticides in their fields and what is the purpose of taking the seeds. They are invited to follow Nayakrishi rules first and then seeds are given.

Farmers receiving seeds from Seed Huts often give back the seeds. But there are instances that they fail to do it. Discussions were held that such default in returning seeds should be discouraged and the farmers not returning the seeds should not be allowed to receive again.

Seeds taken from Seed Huts are mostly vegetable seeds as they can be taken as single pieces. Vegetable seeds including string bean, shim (hyacinth bean), Indian spinach, water gourd, ash gourd and ridged gourd.

3. Seed Multiplication & Regeneration

With support from CSW and UBINIG, seed multiplication plans are taken:

i. Selecting seed for immediate multiplication

ii. Quantity of seed to be multiplied

iii. Decide on who will take responsibility for seed multiplication

iv. Estimate cost of seed multiplication

v. Documenting information

These works are done but not in a systematic way. Through this training, the farmers planned to carry out the activities in an organized way.

It was discussed that annual planning for seed collection and seed multiplication should be followed properly. In vegetables, tomato seed will be multiplied by the Nayakrishi farmers. This year our priority is collection of brinjal seed. Brinjal seed of local varieties should be collected by the Nayakrishi Seed Network. The seeds of all the available brinjal varieties will be collected, multiplied and distributed among the farmers.

The local variety seeds, which are much on demand, will be multiplied in greater amount for distribution among the local farmers.

Drought resistant rice varieties are eroding fast in Ishwardi because of the extension of Deep tube well based cultivation of irrigated boro rice. There are many local variety drought cum flood resistant varieties which needs to be multiplied.

Technical aspects of Seed Management

The following issues were discussed and agreed upon:

1. Seed Collection and selection: Only the seeds of local varieties are maintained.

2. Testing seed health: Disease-free seed, seeds free from insect infestation and clean seed

3. Documenting newly collected seed

4. Selecting containers for seed preservation: containers regulating temperature and moisture will be preferred

5. Planning seed regeneration

6. Policy for collection of seed from outside locality

7. Policy for selecting incoming and outgoing seed from seed Akhra/CSW

Seed Collection

Farmers discussed in Groups about seed collection and also the reasons for disappearence of seeds in their areas.


Seeds to be collected: Rice: Tatisal, dudhkolom, begunbichi, ganihaila, modhushail, haldliboron

Other seeds: China, kaun, safflower, potato, gourd, chickpea

Brinjal (6 varieties): lafa begun, shoila begun, tal begun, chupki begun, islampuri begun, singnath begun,

Bean (7 varieties): Putishim, takta shim, chalklet shim, koia shim, rangima shim, tikiki shim, sada shim

Reasons for seed erosion:

Use of Deep tube well for irrigation for HYV IRRI rice, sluice gate, road construction


Seeds to be collected: Rice (9 varieties) Kartik shail, Kalabokri, Kaika, Voira, Dhaldighi, Hidi, Ghorilita, Kalijira and Ajaldigha. Varieties of rice seed will be multiplied.

Vegetables : 1. Okra 2. Red amarntha 3. Ridged gourd 4. Water gourd 5. Shim (Hyacinth bean) 6.Brinjal

Natore Bean varieties include: 1. Puti shim 2. Sada shim 3. Noldog 4. Kaika 5.Joshori 6.Ghritokumar

Natore Brinjal varieties, 1.Shingnath 2.Atghoria 3. Jhumka 4.Ghrito kanchon 5. Sada begun

Pabna bean collection include putishim, rupban, kartik shim, auto, sada shim, chalklet, kaika shim, noldog

Bogathot (Erget beak) is rare, its plant can grow up to 70 ft high.

Pabna Brinjal: Atghoria, tabla, shoila, kula, kajla and Jessory

Reasons for seed erosion:

In Natore, Kaika, Kolamucha, Kajolgori, Madba, Pankhiraj rice variety were lost due to flood. In Pabna, Aus varieties are lost due to use of Deep Tubewell for irrigation of Boro rice cultivation.

Farhad Mazhar of UBINIG responded to the farmers. The seed eroded from the locality will be collected on a priority basis. Aman rice seed may be collected from the market.

The number of household/farming family per seed Akhra will be increased, those of having 200-250 will be increased, to 500 and those having 700-800 will be increased to 1000.

Different vegetables crops such as Tomato, beans should be cultivated more than before. Brinjal genetic resource will be enriched. Wheat seed needs to be collected. Shatabdi variety (red wheat variety) is much on demand. Maize and Soybean are used as poultry feed. Chili cultivation also needs to be increased. Farmers decided to grow maize and soybean as local poultry industry is growing and there is demand for these crops. It would be good to have safe feed for poultry.


Farmers from Natore, Pabna and Tangail are visiting the farm at the UBINIG Nayakrishi centre

Seed Marketing

Discussions were held around whether Nayakrishi farmers should make seeds available in the market. Nayakrishi crops, particularly vegetables and local variety rice are already very popular in the local market as well as in the city, including Dhaka. But farmers do not yet sell seeds. Individual farmers sell surplus seeds in the local market. Some sell paddy seeds, while others sell vegetable seeds and chili seeds in small quantities.

It was decided that in principle that Nayakrishi seeds should made available in the market. Nayakrishi farmers will now plan for selected seeds for the market with its name as Nayakrishi farmers seeds in the local areas. However, the kind of seeds to be marketed should be decided in the committee meetings.

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