Supplying Improved Wheat Seed to Kyrgyz Farmers

Written June 2009
Country: Kyrgyzstan

KAED will implement a USAID-funded pilot seed program that will help about 35,000 farmers produce quality seeds by the fall of 2009.

“KAED will teach Kyrgyz farmers improved techniques that will increase wheat productivity and develop a market-oriented process for distributing improved wheat seeds,” says Dr. Hiqmet Demiri, KAED chief of party.

Kyrgyzstan has an annual deficit of 400,000 metric tons (mt) of bread wheat. Yields are low because of outdated wheat varieties, poor quality seeds and improper management. “The lack of high quality seeds accounts for about 40 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s wheat deficit, according to a KAED survey,” Demiri says.

The seed program’s two objectives are to strengthen Kyrgyzstan’s seed sector and to improve farmer access to quality seeds. The main focus is to improve food security through increased wheat production.

USAID allocated US $300,000 to buy 275 mt of winter wheat seeds from the Krasnodar Research Institute of Agriculture in Russia through the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas. The seed arrived in Kyrgyzstan in October 2008.

KAED is distributing the seed for further multiplication on seed farms with the help of Association of Agribusinessmen of Kyrgyzstan AAK, the Seed Association of Kyrgyzstan and the Cooperative Union of Kyrgyzstan.

KAED sold the seeds at subsidized prices – about 25 percent lower than the local market price. Funds from seed sales will go to a revolving fund that will be sustainable long after the project ends.

“The impact will extend beyond 2009,” Demiri says. “If the estimated 4,500 mt of quality seed to be produced in the summer of 2009 is sold at current Krygyz market prices, it will be worth $2.7 million. That means that the $300,000 intervention will yield a nine-fold return rate in a single growing cycle, making it the most serious investment in the Kyrgyz seed industry in 20 years.”

Based on the additional 4,500 mt of seed, farmers will be able to plant up to 21,000 hectares (ha) of wheat in the fall of 2009. Yields are expected to double from 2.0 mt/ha to 4.0 mt/ha on the planted area due to application of advanced packages of technology and management including improved seeds and balanced fertilization. This would allow farmers to produce 42,000 additional mt of wheat in the summer of 2010.

“The value of incremental production will be $14.7 million,” Demiri says.

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Distributing seeds