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Development of National Organic Rice Seed Production Systems with Information Sector (New Title: Strengthening the National Organic Rice Seed Production Systems)

Technical Description

Abstract

By 2016, five percent of the total cultivated land should be converted to organic agriculture according to the National Organic Agriculture Program. This implies 450 thousand hectares will require inputs, which can pose a challenge in terms of high quality seeds. There are a number of organic farms that developed technologies suitable to organic agriculture requirements. Majority of rice seeds used by these farms come from farmer-saved seeds or seed exchange. In order to efficiently satisfy the anticipated seed demand, it is necessary to strengthen the organic seed system with existing certified organic farmers and improve the system so that seed quality is ensured.

This project primarily aimed to initiate the establishment of certified organic seed farms for rice, assess effective technology in terms of yield and seed quality and document existing organic seed technologies. Ten hectares of organic rice seed farms were established nationwide through five certified organic farms cultivating rice at the end of the project cycle. More than 8,000 kg of high quality, modern, traditional and heirloom seeds were acquired and distributed to organic farmers, which will multiply part of their produce for seed purposes. Furthermore, the project showed that NSIC Rc 160 and PSB Rc 18 can produce comparable yield under organic agriculture compared to non-organic cultivation provided the necessary nutrients is supplied. Disease pressure is a critical problem on modern varieties despite application of alternative pest control strategies. Farmers’ varieties, favoured by organic practitioners because of taste and/or aroma, showed differing yield performance across location.

The project showed that certified organic collaborators have the necessary skills to satisfy the field standards for seed farms, however, more training is necessary in terms of post-harvest handling. Moreover, traditional, heirloom and aromatic varieties produced showed extended dormancy that required seed re-testing. Varietal identification was also a challenge because varietal characterisation for such varieties is yet to be established. Lastly, in order to satisfy the principle of diversity it can be necessary to develop an alternative threshold for varietal purity grounded on organic-based trials for seeds intended for organic agriculture.