Producing quality seed

Post Source: DAWN ECONOMIC & BUSINESS REVIEW

 

By Fahim Nawaz

The informal sector is the major source of seed supply where more than 90 per cent of seeds come from farmers or sources like commission agents, retailers and shopkeepers.The policy makers, donors and scientific community need to help organise systematic seed production to enhance agricultural output.

The provision of infrastructure, financial incentives and improved marketing is needed to promote seed industry. The organisation of informal sector by forming seed growers association and provision of small cleaning units and storage facilities would help develop good quality seed. The agricultural departments and media can play an important in creating awareness in the farming community particularly in small farmers about the production of quality seed.

The formal seed sector comprises public sector organisations and private seed companies. The private companies fulfill the demand of fodder and forages seed and of oilseeds to some extent but much of the seed for these crops is imported. This is due to failure of public sector to produce fodder seed on commercial scale and lack of hybrid seed production programme in the private sector. The private sector provides seed at higher rates than the public sector and every company has a different price for the same crop seed because imported seed is much more expensive than that produced locally.

The lack of plant breeding programme in the private sector is the major constraint in the supply of sufficient amount of good quality seed to the farmers. Although public sector organisations are playing a key role in the variety development, registration and release but their performance is not satisfactory due to lack of resources and independent organisation for seed purpose. The less developed seed sector in NWFP and Balochistan is affecting seed production in these provinces and private sector should be encouraged to enter the seed business.

There is need to provide incentives for the development of national seed sector. Reorganisation or privatisation of public seed companies would increase efficiency and encourage national private seed companies to establish basic seed production units to organise seed production programme.

The local vegetable seed production by private sector should be encouraged by providing incentives. The private sector should be facilitated to establish its own basic seed production units in all the provinces. FSC and RD should be strengthened by establishing new laboratories and levying fees for variety registration and seed certification services.

The import and export of seed were allowed under the Truth-in-Labeling (Seed), Rules 1991 and import of seed of only those varieties was allowed that were approved in the national register for seed and crop production. A very liberal and friendly seed policy provides an opportunity to enter into seed business in the country but it also pose a threat for local seed production projects especially in case of vegetables and hybrid seed.

The quality of seed is controlled and monitored by FSC & RD and it has successfully monitored the quality of seed to safeguard the farmers and seed industry by enforcing the Seed Act 1976 and Truth-in-Labeling (Seeds) Rules, 1991 of seed imported from other countries. There is need to bring gradual reduction in import of seeds by developing and improving the local production.

The seed processing capacity is mainly concentrated in Punjab and Sindh compared to in the other two provinces. The available seed processing capacity does not correspond with the targets of seed procurement and it should be increased by installing small cleaning units.

The storage facilities are also not satisfactory. Appropriate seed storage facilities should be built to maintain the quality of seed offered for sale.

The provincial seed corporations provide seed to farmers through their own seed depots, seed dealers and other public sector organisations and are responsible for marketing and distribution of seed. However, in Balochistan, seed is supplied by agricultural extension services, agricultural research institutes and sales points established by the agriculture department. Inefficient marketing system leads to carry-over stocks which affects procurement targets of next year. Private sector has comparatively better marketing system than public sector.

The need of documentation and data base for planning and management of seed industry has increased in the modern age of globalisation. This will attract the foreign investors to plan for the establishment of seed industry either independently or through joint venture with national private seed sector. The compilation of a comprehensive document “Seed Industry of Pakistan” is a step in the right direction.

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