Commercial distribution of tree seed in small bags - results from a pilot and action research project in Nepal

Citation:
Shrestha KB;, Jha PK;, Suman S. Commercial distribution of tree seed in small bags - results from a pilot and action research project in Nepal.; 2005.

Abstract:

Access to quality tree seed implies specific problems for tree planting farmers in developing countries. Since most of them are smallholders, they need only few seed. Distribution networks usually do not exist for such small quantities. In 2001 it was decided to test a new approach to distribution of tree seed on a pilot basis in Nepal: Commercial distribution of tree seed in small bags through commercial enterprises dealing with horticultural and agricultural seed. In Nepal, such enterprises are known as agro-vets. The development objectives were (a) to increase access to high quality tree seed for farmers, FUG and other small-scale tree-planters, and (b) to support the operations of two tree seed co-operatives, NAFSCOL-Kaski and NAFSCOL-Kabhre by contributing to their increased turnover. The research objectives were to assess the financial, viability and social biodiversity impact of the approach cf. the project description in annex 1. The pilot project ran from 2003-2004 and had two phases. During phase 1, the pilot project was prepared and implemented. Small bags were designed, produced and packed with tree seed from five different fodder species. Agro-vet dealers located in all the different regions of Nepal sold the bags. During phase 2, lessons learned from the pilot project were collected and analysed. Distribution channel: the pilot project confirms that agro-vets can work as channels for reaching small-scale tree planters. There is scope for developing the market further through advertisement and by targeting FUG more directly. Species: the project included five fodder tree species. The choice of these species was appropriate in the sense that the species sold well. Dealers and customers suggested more species to be included. Size of bags: two sizes of bags were produced and distributed with a view to testing which of them would be the most suitable. The smallest bags contained seed for 50 seedlings, the larger bags for 500. The smallest size appeared to be the most suitable, especially for private nurseries, farmers and other small-scale tree planters. The larger size was useful but not required for targeting large-scale tree planters. Design: dealers and customers appreciated the aluminium material and the colourful and attractive design of the bags. The design and the dealers helped convincing the customers to buy the seed. Information on the bags: the respondents found that the information printed on the bags was useful, but requested additional information on sowing season. Some dealers had ordered a second lot of small bags. These bags were not packed properly, which may have implied loss of credibility. Guidelines on germination: guidelines on how to make the seed germinate were elaborated as part of the project. Brochures containing the guidelines were added to the bags and distributed to dealers and other interested persons. Only few of the interviewed customers consulted the guidelines.

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