Globally the seed industry is undergoing significant transformation due to rapid strides made in trait development, trait convergence, and smarter reach of products to growers and application of information analytics for strategic business growth. There is a need for the Bangladesh seed sector to prepare themselves for the changing dynamics of markets, technology flow, regulatory frameworks and the strategic convergence of the Agri input industry to ensure complete solutions to farmers. Most of the plant breeding activities in Bangladesh take place in the public domain. However, to meet the growing demand of smallholder farmers for good-quality and better-performing varieties, NGOs and private companies are also getting involved in plant breeding activities. In this context, “Seed Industry Program”, the first of its kind in Bangladesh was organized by Cornell University, USA and Sathguru Management Consultants, India under the aegis of Feed the Future South Asia Eggplant Improvement Partnership (FtFBP) at Dhaka, Bangladesh from January 19-20, 2020. The program was based on the thematic areas of seed technology, regulations, quality, markets, and strategy. In Bangladesh, the private sector is currently growing and dominating the supply of hybrid rice, maize, potato, jute and vegetables whereas the public sector is leading in inbred rice, minor cereals, pulses, oilseed and horticultural crops. But the supply of quality seeds is a major cause of concern and is inadequate when compared to the demand. The program facilitated discussions focusing on the possible ways in which public and private seed sector may enhance their contributions in seed delivery through innovative delivery models.
Ronnie Coffman, Director, IP-CALS, made the opening remarks to the session and the program was officially inaugurated by Md. Nasiruzzaman, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Dhaka, Bangladesh. It was chaired by Dr. Shaikh Mohammad Bokhtiar, Executive Chairman, BARC, Dhaka. John Smith- Sreen, Director-Feed the Future, EGO, Dhaka, USAID was the Guest of Honor for the event. Md. Nasiruzzaman during his inaugural talk was supportive of the introduction of Bt corn in the country to combat the challenges faced by the corn pest, fall armyworm. The workshop was an opportunity for the Ministry of Agriculture to interact with the public and private sector and to hear out the opportunities and challenges.
The two-day seed program provided comprehensive exposure to global and Bangladesh perspectives on biotech crops, quality seed production and suitable marketing strategies to professionals associated with private public seed systems. The program also provided valuable insights into research and technology management, technology licensing, access and dissemination approaches, seed production, processing, testing, certification, driving diversity and striving for market dominance. The faculty included international experts from industry and public sector who gave presentations on range of topics that included:
- Biotechnology trends and impact on technology advancements
- Global seed markets and opportunities for Bangladesh companies
- Steps in developing and testing GM products
- Biotech research policy and regulations in Bangladesh
- Technology licensing, development, access and dissemination approaches
- Bangladesh Seed Industry - Current state and trend in Variety Development
- GM Crops - Opportunities and constraints in product development for private sector in Bangladesh
- Patents and Plant Variety Protection intricacies, and its impact on trait development and delivery
- Supply chain dynamics of seed industry
- Quality control, testing and delivery criteria for seeds of vegetable and field cropsand regulatory requirements for quality seed delivery
- Seed certification system of Bangladesh
- Mobile Agri & IT solutions in Seed Industry
- Golden Rice - Product development perspective
- Way forward towards building sustained Bt eggplant adoption in farmer fields of Bangladesh
- Case Study – Delivering Genetic Gains in Wheat (DGGW) Model (Genetic gains through seed access
The program was attended by more than fifty seed professionals from private and public sector representing research, quality assurance, marketing, sales, supply chain and regulatory functions. The Bangladesh seed industry was represented by participation from companies that included Supreme Seed Company, Lal Teer Seed Ltd, Advanced Chemical Industries (ACI), Bayer Crop Sciences, Metal Agro Ltd and Ispahani Agro. The public sector was represented mainly by participants from Ministry of Agriculture, BARI, BADC, DAE, BRRI, BARC and Universities. The participants got an opportunity to learn about the approaches and strategies for quality seed production and also gained exposure aligning to various forces influencing seed industry dynamics and prepare themselves to gain and retain a competitive advantage.
The Program concluded by a panel discussion moderated by Ronnie Coffman and Dr. Vijay Paranjape. The Panelists represented public and private sector, USAID and Ministry of Agriculture. The topic of the panel discussion was “Driving diversity and self-sufficiency for seeds in Bangladesh”. The discussion identified the necessity for better forecasting mechanisms for seed production. Bangladesh’s private sector emphasized the importance of PPPs and linkages to strengthen the seed sector of the country. They also expressed a need to promote the private sector and to involve more in R & D activities in collaboration with the public sector and extension services in different elements of seed value chain. The outcomes of the entire program were very fruitful as expressed by several participants. To summarize, there was a pertinent enthusiasm and positivity from the Bangladesh seed industry for implementing GM crop seeds and improvising their seed system.