Joep van Balen from Enza Zaden visited Nepal twice to advise local seed growers. He trains the growers to pay particular attention to the sowing method, the distance between plants, the moment at which the plants are selected, and contamination. He also explains the best way to disinfect seeds, and that they must be kept dry. Joep van Balen: "We're not giving them any blueprints. We want to make it clear as to why a certain technique is more effective."
The results at a glance:
This ongoing project has already produced a number of good results:
Mustard greens, a pepper and a bean
Nepalese seed growers generally work according to traditional methods and as such, have little knowledge of new technologies that could help them improve their seed. There is a need for adapted and resistant seeds that produce a greater yield. The government also has its sights set on a better seed supply for local crops. "We went for mustard greens, a variety of pepper and a bean, as these items are eaten a lot in Nepal", says breeder Van Balen. "We now want to use these plants to obtain seeds of consistent quality."
The farmers' cooperatives in Nepal receive technical know-how from Enza Zaden and additional support from Agriterra. It will take a good two years before the varieties in the making are market-ready. In the meantime, Agriterra is working with the cooperatives to find a way to register and market an own name and logo for the best seeds.
Van Balen: "The support of Nepalese seed growers is consistent with the type of corporate social responsibility that we champion"
Corporate social responsibility
Enza Zaden has no direct benefit from the collaboration in Nepal: the local seeds are not part of our range. "It's very fulfilling to see horticulturists working independently to boost their own native varieties to produce good quality seed", explains Joep van Balen. "By supporting these small-scale seed growers, Enza Zaden is also supporting the farmers who will then use the seed, and soon the customer who will have better vegetables." The project in Nepal is in-keeping with Enza Zaden's efforts to supply professional horticulturists with excellent seed and the corporate social responsibility that the company advocates.