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Seed Production System in Pakistan

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In Pakistan, the Federal Seed (Amendment) Act, 2015 (clause 12)6 defines seed as “any of the branded reproductive or vegetative propagating material of the plants of field crops, vegetable crops, fruits, spices, medicinal herbs, flowers, shrubs, forest trees, other species and mushroom spawn used for sowing or planting the genera or species prescribed by the Federal Government “. This definition covers forest trees and thus in the absence of any specific frame condition for forest seeds, this law gives policy space for the development of the forest seeds industry. As per law, there are three categories of seed in agriculture:

• Pre-basic seed: The initial seeds obtained from selected individual plants of a particular variety, to purify and maintain that variety for its further multiplication under the supervision of a qualified plant breeder, to provide the basis for all further seed production.

• Basic seed: Also known as foundation seed, it is the descendent of breeder seed and is produced under conditions that ensure maintaining genetic purity and identity. Basic seed is used to produce the certified seed.

• Certified seed: Seed of good quality and established identity verified by a seed certification agency or department.

Seed certification is the process by which a state seed certifying agency gives official recognition to seeds produced of a cultivar or named variety under a limited generation system, ensuring genetic purity, identity, and a given minimum level of quality. Recognized classes of certified seed include Breeders Seed, Foundation Seed, Registered Seed, and Certified Seed.

“Certified seed may be defined as that seed where all procedures are followed like breeder, ecologist, time of seed collection is known, type and tree populationare known, proper germination tests are carried before sowing in the nursery”.

In Pakistan, the Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department provides quality control cover through crop variety registration, crop inspection, and seed testing. This system is being implemented at the federal level under the Seed Act, of 1976 and the Seed Amendment Act, of 2015. However, the practice of using certified seed for raising the nursery in the forestry sector is not followed in Pakistan.

In addition to the above, the law also defines Genes Bank as a biorepository that preserves genetic material. For plants, this is done by storing seeds, freezing cuttings from the plant, or stocking the seeds. In comparison, seed categories in forestry include the following:

• Unclassified seed — seed collected from unknown sources (unknown about the seed source/ origin, etc. and used for raising nursery seedlings for propagation.

• Classified seed — seed from a known location and plant species. Generally, the local forest department or suppliers collect seed from the source and use it for raising nursery seedlings.

• Certified seed — seed which is produced by following all breeding principles including collection of seed from known species and tree characteristics and population, time of seed collection, proper germination tests carried out before sowing, etc. However, the use of certified seed for raising forest nurseries in Pakistan does not exist.

Seed Orchards:

There are two main types of seed orchards, named according to the way these are established:

1. Clonal seed orchard: Seed orchard raised from selected clones propagated by grafting, cutting, air-layering or tissue culture.

2. Seedling seed orchard: Seed orchard raised from seedlings produced by selected parents through natural or controlled pollination.

Seed orchards or germplasms are stands planted or set aside especially, to produce abundant superior quality seed. Comparable to gene banks in agriculture, a seed orchard is an intensive plantation of specifically arranged/ identified trees for the mass production of genetically! anted seeds to create plants or seeds for the establishment of new forests. Seed orchards are stands specially to produce abundant superior seeds. A seed orchard consists of trees where the phenotYPe is usually of minor importance as long as the trees produce healthy seeds.

Maintenance of Germplasm/Seed Orchards improve

The Genetic Research Section of Pakistan Forest Institute (PFI) is responsible for researching forest plants/ species. The research activities have nearly stopped due to a lack of scientists, equipment, and financial resources after the 1st constitutional amendment and devolution of PFI to the province. The genetics section does not have allied facilities such as functional seed storage. The existing storage is currently non-functional due to the unavailability of financial resources. Similarly, the seed orchards established by PFI in different parts of the country, especially in the south, are not maintained by the institute for the same reasons as explained before.

PFI has raised a small mother plants garden with different species at the PFI botanical garden, from where seed is collected for its nursery. The Silviculture section of PFI produces a nursey of selected species from the seed supplied by the genetic section at PFI. This, however, is not a real-life situation on the ground. According to the Director of Silviculture, the role of the genetics section is to collect seeds from different sources and provide them to the silviculture section for further multiplication.

The silviculture section does not collect seeds on a large scale. With limited resources, the nursery at PFI is raised with only 25000 — 40000 plants of different species. Similarly, the range management section is growing its nursery mainly of grasses and shrubs. The silviculture section of PFI is carrying out research trials on different plant species on a pilot basis. Once succeeded, they handed over planting material to the provincial Forest department for further multiplication through large-scale plantation. One such example in the recent past is Acacia albida which was multiplied with the help of PFI. The Research and Development (R&D) directorate of the KP Forest department has identified seed stands in each ecological zone.

These constitute a group of trees demonstrating the best phenological characteristics in a given ecological zone for a given species. All the seed stands have been properly demarcated. However, the directorate has no management control over the areas and has not been handed over to the directorate. Once notified, all types of seed collection activities from these stands will cease except by the R&D Directorate.

In Punjab, seed arboretums having different species were established by the Pakistan Forest Institute and Punjab Forest Department in Changa Manga, Chicha Watni, and Rakh Dagar Kotli for quality seed collection. However, currently, the department buys seed from private seed dealers/collectors through an open tender. The quality of seed provided by these private suppliers is very poor.

The Punjab Forest Department initiated the efforts to establish a seed and seed supply system in Punjab under a project “Punjab Forestry Sector Development Project” during 1996-2001 at PFRI Faisalabad. During the project period, several studies and reports were prepared about the seed supply system, however, these were not readily available. Under the PFSD project, a list of seed stands and trees was also established in Punjab. This list is now lost in old records and is not readily available to the department. In any case, it was too long ago when these trees were identified and even with the list available, the trees may have deteriorated. Research work in the forestry sector has nearly stopped due to resource constraints and low priority for research.

In AJK, a forestry Seed Centre was established in 1990-91 under the project “Integrated Hill Forest” with financial assistance from the World Bank. The overall objectives of establishing the seed center are to produce quality, certified seed for forest trees and to ensure the continuous supply of seed to the forestry AJK at a reasonable price. A few seed stands have been identified by the centers. They also maintain a list of plus trees. The centre AJK supplies seeds to different forest divisions based on their demand before the nursery establishment season.

The only figure available from 2018 was a supply of 24-ton seed of different species to AJK Forest department. The seed centre operates on supply driven approach and does not have capacity to operate according to demand. The centre was severely damaged by 1992 floods, 2005 earthquake and 2010 floods. Currently, the forestry seed centre AJK is partly functional with extremely limited human and financial resources with a manager supported by Range Forest Officer, two Foresters and lour Forest Guards and support staff.

The forestry seed centre AJK collects seed from the identified and marked plus tress in seed stands of different species through engaging private seal collectors. the forestry centre before paying for the seed from the collectors, clean the seed and conduct purity, germination, and viability tests. It is then tagged and provided to the department during the season.

The following information are placed on tag before supplying to the department

• Name of species

• Germination %age

• Viability of seed

• Location (place of collection)

• Year of collection

• Purity (%age of inert material) etc.

Seed production is a big issue in Balochistan due to very low rainfall. In Balochistan, no seed collection and storage system exist in the department. Very limited seed stores exist and those mostly cater to the needs of ornamental or horticultural plants. Seed collection target of forest species is met by assigning forest guard and game watchers. Seeds are stored in makeshift places on ad hoc basis. Seeds are collected from trees with better phenotypic characters but there is no way to monitor this.

Seed collection for nursery production

Public sector

Quality seed is a prerequisite for raising good nurseries to get healthy and standard quality planting stock which would result in good forest cover having optimum yield. There is no proper system of certified seed or quality planting stock production anywhere in the country. Generally, seed is purchased from the local seed suppliers in various locations/sites and used for nursey raising. These specific suppliers buy seed from local seed collectors (forest dwellers) who collect seed from accessible locations anywhere within the forest.

There is no proper market from where seeds of forest species are available on a competitive basis. Thus, practically, either the Forest departments’ field staff collects seed from natural forests or buys from the private seed suppliers or collectors for raising nurseries. The seed supply system was not institutionalized by any Forest department in the country due to the reasons that there has not been a consensus if a separate seed supply system set up is necessary for forest management activities. The Forest departments everywhere in the country feel constrained on seed issue and feel the need for a separate wing dedicated to high quality seed production and supply to fulfil the departmental demand.

Private sector

Multiple seed sources’ are used by private nursery owners for raising nurseries A dominant number of nursery owners in GB and Balochistan collect their own seed or propagules from trees accessible to them in the forests or other sources and supplement with purchases. In AJK and KP, majority of nursery owners use their own stocks and buy seeds from the market. Sindh and Punjab have tendency to use multiple sources. In Punjab and Shunt, the trend is mixed with own, bought and collected seeds. The data show significance of seed collectors who sell seed to the nursery owners. Investing in quality assurance in their seed supplies may lead to better quality of nursery plants and crops.

Seed Production System in Pakistan

Overall, 75% collection is made from plus or genetically superior trees and 25% seed is collected from random trees that are not specifically assigned for seed collection. In case of Sindh 77%, Punjab 77%, KT 83%, AJK 83%, Balochistan 50% and in GB 50% seed is reportedly collected from plus trees. It is important to note that the trees indicated by the nursery owners are plus from their own definition. Trees demonstrating better growth and phenological characters are plus trees for them. 100% respondents reported lack of knowledge regarding any seed orchard or seed banks managed by the department.

Seed Production System in Pakistan

Origin of seed available for purchase includes gardeners (makes), private seed stores and forest departments. Overall, 64% seed is purchased from private seed stores, 34% from gardeners or independent vendors and a very minor (2%) from Forest department. The trends vary among provinces. In Sindh, 38% of seed is purchased from the gardeners whereas 62% of seed is purchased from private seed stores. In Punjab, 76% seed is procured from seed stores. Punjab is the only province where forest department is indicated as a source of seed. In KP and AJK, a larger dependence is on private seed stores (64% and 73% respectively). In Balochistan and GB 100% seed is purchased from gardeners .The respondents were asked if the quality of seed from purchased source was satisfactory. 94% respondents were satisfied with the seed quality whereas only 6% had concerns. Those who were satisfied, had limited understanding of the means and standards for quality assurance of seed purchased.

Seed Production System in Pakistan

Seed testing Facilities

Under Clause 22-F of FSCRD seed Act 2015 amendment, establishment of seed testing laboratory within the auspices of Forestry sector is legally justified: “The Federal Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, allow accredited seed laboratories in the public and private sectors to carry out analysis of seed of any kind or plant variety or hybrid under this Act in such manner as may be prescribed”.

All the forest officers interviewed for the study suggested that the seed procured from private seed suppliers is checked by physically examining the samples of the seed to be purchased. Currently, Forest departments in all provinces including AJK & GB lack both storage and testing facilities of forest seed. There is no established seed testing laboratory for forest seed in any public or private set up.

One such lab was reportedly established by KP R&D directorate in 2015, but it is not functional and has no facilities. The R&D directorate has developed initial parameters of seed testing. They intend to establish seed testing labs in different ecological zones of KP. They are launching a project for initiating seed certification process. Seed storages are proposed in the project in the natural environments.

Seed certification protocols of forest plants

Federal Seed Certification & Registration Department as a State seed certifying agency gives official recognition to seeds produced of a plant/ specie under a limited generation system which ensures genetic purity, identity, and a given minimum level of quality. The forest plants seed, and seedling certification protocols/ standard production procedures is available, “Forest Tree Seed Certification Standards, 1988” but these are not applied in the field due to the reason that no such supply system exists in public or private sector. The certified seed and seedling production procedure exists but practically it is not followed in the field as no seed supply system is established in the country. Similarly, segregated roles to be played by the different actors in seed and seedling supply chain such as PFI (Silviculture and Genetic sections), R&D directorate of KP forest department, PFRI in Punjab, forestry seed centre AJK and private nurseries growers are still not clear and needs to be defined properly.

Seed Production System in Pakistan

A draft protocol for seed orchards, seed collection and quality assurance has been prepared for the policy makers’ consideration. The draft went through several provincial and national consultations and was refined with multiple inputs, including those from Pakistan Forest institute, National Agriculture Research Centre, Pakistan Forestry Research Institute and Federal Seeds Certification and Registration department.

Coordination among different stakeholders

There is no interprovincial coordinator to organize demand, supply, and research on seed issues. Ideally, PFI could serve as a parent certified germplasm bank (progeny or seed orchards) from where all the forest departments and private growers could collect multiplication material. There may be a defined segregated role for PFI, forest departments, private nurseries growers, tissue culture facilities in seed and seedling production system in the provinces. This functional coordination will also create opportunity to carry out joint research activities. Similarly, the coordination with other organization such as National Agriculture Research Centre (NARC) and forestry-based research facilities is also very weak, and needs be established based on clear expectations and roles.

Research & Development

Research & development has never been the core function of provincial forest departments. Their main focus has been on planting and harvesting the forest trees. Therefore, there is a limited drive and allocation of resources for public sector research institutes to invest in seed technology of forest trees since there is no formal seed protocol system that obliges department to invest in it. Further, there is no breeding section at any forest institute/ department to carry out production of improved plant species or multiplication of improved exotic species.

There are also limited training opportunities for researchers involved in seed production practices to enhance their capacity in seed and seedling production. Similarly, very little research is conducted to understand the dynamics of seed bearing of forest trees such as identifying good sites and estimating when the next high seed production year is likely to occur which is of utmost importance in seed collection. Even when budgets are made available, there is plenty of inflexibility in the mechanisms to utilise this budget by the research institutes which makes the entire exercise tedious for all involved. An inventory of research and development outfits within the Forest departments in the provinces is provided in Table

Seed Production System in Pakistan

Based on this list, it seems that the direct mandate for systematic support in seed collection has been defined in case of PFRI and AJK Forest Seed Centre only. These set ups, however, have their own strengths and gaps yet a high potential exists for these to become centre of services for most of the country.

Summary of main issues and constraints in seed sub sector

1. Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department provides quality control cover through registration of agriculture crops/ crop variety, crop inspection and seed testing. This system is being implemented at federal level under the Seed Act, 1976. For forest seed and seedling production, the same Act provides legal coverage, however, this is not the case in practice.

2. After 18th Constitutional Amendment, the role of PFI is almost negligible as a provincial institute. At country level, there is no comparable institute to play a role to provide technical support for quality seed production to the provinces.

3. The existing set up of the forest department in Pakistan including AJK & GB, do not prioritize support to production of quality certified seed technically and financially. The current capacity is very low.

4. The quality of documentation is poor for tracing seed sources and classification. All the work earlier performed is lost and thus requires a new effort.

5. Private nursery growers have no linkages with forest department for using and acquiring quality seeds or any other technical support. Therefore, the commercialization of forest nurseries is difficult besides question on quality of plants produced.

Sourse: REDD+ Pakistan

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