Spurious Seed, Sick Farmers, Dwindling Agri-Economy – A Stumbling Block on the Road to New India, Five Trillion Economy

There may not be any disagreement; Farmers in India are the building blocks of New India and they are in the same plank as of our Soldiers guarding borders to safe-guard national integrity. Their dedication, commitment and contributions are second to none and both are known to sacrifice their lives for the cause of the Country. In such a situation, government must be bound by duty to settle legitimate grievances of the Farmers on war footing and nurture their self-esteem, paving way for them to lead decent lives at par with their well to do peers in other professions. Enhanced crop productivity is eminent in neutralizing input costs and thereby posting profits in farm income. The single most critical factor in profitable agri-venture is Seed. Good seed is synonymous to good crop and use of improved varieties is the key to successful agriculture. The fact remains, Indian farmers are grossly deprived on both the counts. It is not that consecutive government are unaware of it, but conveniently turns a blind eye, indirectly encouraging seed supply agencies, both in public and private sectors, to do seed business at ease at the cost of farmers. The so-called ‘Certified Seeds’ of popular varieties are often procured from open markets (Mandis), lot-numbers generated after processing, and packed in the bags of National Level Agencies for supply to farmers. Nevertheless, large chunk of non-descript seeds are regularly procured through Open Tenders and pumped into the system putting farmers in distress. 
Spurious Seed System and Routine Schemes – Set to Ruin Indian Agriculture Mukti Sadhan Basu, Ph.D | 03-Jan-2017 https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/spurious-seed-system-routine-schemes-set-ruin-basu-ph-d

Such a situation calls for dealing with the anarchy in the seed system with a heavy hand and scrap seed promotion related schemes under the umbrella of Technology Mission, launched way back in 1986. The most pragmatic approach to make Indian Agriculture productive, remunerative and thereby dynamic should involve: 

1.     Imposing complete ban on procurement of Certified Seed through Open Tenders and supplying to Farmers by the National Level Agencies, supported by the Centre. Action should also be taken on revalidation of expired, unsold seed lot and blending it with fresh seed and reselling.2.     National Seeds Corporation, the biggest NLA, supported by the Ministry of Agriculture, Govt. of India, should be directed for full utilization of the Seeds Farms in thousands of hectares in the states of Haryana, Rajasthan and Karnataka and resort to producing their own seeds for marketing, particularly after the merger of SFCI with NSC.    3.     Revamping the Seed Certification System to tackle the source of spurious seed; appoint a high-level expert committee to frame new policy; create a pool of Seed Auditors for technical audit and involve multi-disciplinary scientific team certifying health and purity of seeds.4.     Pumping lakhs of tons seeds of a range of crop varieties within 10 years by procuring from one state and supplying to the other at the cost of Central Govt. should be stopped, which are mostly misused and a colossal waste.   5.     The Climate-Smart varieties released within the last 5 years should be in the hand of farmers, equipping them to fight with the adversities of climate change. Mother seed of new generation varieties, 1-5 kgs based on seed multiplication ratio, should be handed over to interested farmers in each district through Krishi Vigyan Kendras, who in turn guide farmers to produce quality seed and use as Farm Saved Seed.6.     Commodity Institutes of ICAR and SAUs should set priority to produce basic seed of Climate-Smart varieties and supply to KVKs in the States for which they were released with intimation to MoA, GoI for reimbursement of cost.    Over and above, the growing exploitation of farmers by the middleman under the nose of the Govt has broken the backbone of farming community. It is high time that the most credible government at the Centre should sense the growing discord and must put its weight in damage control, on priority. At this stage nothing is more important for the govt. than to douse the fire with a human touch. It is for the past, present and future governments to realize that the farmers are not begging for any favour but demanding their dues, and a decent return on investments in agriculture.      
Appeasement of Farmers, a Casteless Community, is the best way to serve the world’s largest democracy and spread its root deeper to derive vibrant economy.

Mukti Sadhan Basu

Mukti Sadhan Basu

Dr Mukti Sadhan Basu is a former director of the National Research Centre for Groundnut, Indian Council of Agricultural Research. He was also International Consultant on Aflatoxin Management, UNIDO and worked in Africa in that capacity. Presently he is Managing Director of SBSF Consultancy.

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