Work Teams of Co-operative Seed Farms Improving Seed Production
In 2011, three co-operative seed farms were selected for pilot projects on seed production, with the technical assistance of the Food and Agriculture Organization and the financial support of UNDP. This initiative has started to bear fruit: these farms are now fully engaged in quality seed production.
- Work team has increased its seed production by 10 to 15 percent
- Seeds meeting international standards are being produced through adoption of agronomic practices and seed processing techniques introduced through the seed project
The team leader of the work team at the Daesong Certified Seed Farm, in Sukchon County, South Pyongan province, acknowledges that it is difficult, if not impossible, to operate a good seed programme without installing proper seed facilities and that it is equally important to keep these in operational mode. Seed drying, processing, testing and chemical treatment operations need to have such facilities in working order. The absence of a proper seed drying facility is always a major source of concern. For various reasons, it may not always be possible to install artificial drying facilities. On the other hand, construction of flooring to dry seeds under natural conditions is always achievable, and this simple intervention can lead to tremendous improvement in seed quality, especially germinability and longevity.
Typically, seeds are harvested at higher moisture levels in order to minimise post-harvest losses caused by shattering, damage from birds, etc. In such cases, the moisture content of the seed must be reduced to 12 to 14 percent within a few days. Even with crops that are harvested at lower moisture percentages, it would be better to dry them quickly so that the seed stocks can be processed without delay and the risk of contamination is kept to a minimum. Given these circumstances, the seed project has already constructed eight threshing-cum-seed drying floors, each having an area of 1,000 square metres.
The work team at Daesong is one of the teams to produce rice seeds that meet international standards. Seed production increased by 10 to 15 percent, adopting agronomic practices and seed processing techniques introduced by the seed project, which also supported the construction of the threshing and seed drying floors and small plot demonstrations to produce seed of international standards. The farm covers all other operational costs, including funds for the foundation seeds, farm inputs, seed processing and storage.
At the outset, it was very difficult to convince members of the work team to place equal emphasis on quality and quantity. To overcome this obstacle, the small plot demonstrations were introduced using seeds meeting international standards and improved agronomic practices, and ensuring that operations were carried out by team members themselves under the technical guidance of the national seed expert and chief technical advisor. Although complete demonstrations require considerable time and effort, clients who observed them could apply the techniques and practices to their particular situations, in turn spreading awareness.
Food security is heavily dependent on seed security. The importance of seeds as a major input and a means of increasing food production is being recognised more and more in the DPRK.