Quality seeds offer solution to declining production, productivity
Rising temperatures in the next 15 years will lead to a huge drop in global farm production, anything between 20 and 40 percent, and the policy-makers are looking up to the breeders to find a solution to that.
Arguing that new plant varieties and high quality seeds have a critical role in providing a dynamic and sustainable agriculture, Agriculture Minister, Shri Sharad Pawar, today called for all-out encouragement to this sector. He said, the key to success in the farm sector is seed security: the availability of the appropriate variety at the right place and time, in sufficient quantity and quality.
Inaugurating the National Seed Congress here today, the Minister said, ‘Governments need to develop and maintain an enabling environment to encourage plant breeding and the production and distribution of high quality seed. Increased public and private investment in the seed sector is required for the long term if agriculture is to meet the challenges of food security.’
Shri Pawar emphasised that modern biotechnology and molecular breeding and associated methods for attaining increased production and productivity must be harnessed. Apart from genetic enhancement, other technologies related to quality seed production and quality enhancement techniques contribute substantially to improved seeds. Capacity building in all these areas has been supported by the Government and will continue to be a priority area. Simultaneously the establishment and maintenance of an appropriate infrastructure on the scientific as well as technical level is considered important, he said.
Agriculture Minister also stressed on the role the private sector can play in seed production. He said: ‘We need to recognize the benefits in developing complementarity and synergy between the two sectors. The Indian Sub-Continent and South East Asia are considered to have experienced a higher growth rate in agriculture mainly because of the good cooperation between the public and private sectors. Government is interested to develop appropriate policies and investment-friendly legal and regulatory framework to facilitate private sector investment in the seed and agro-industries.’
Seed exports, the Minister said, present a great potential. ‘Global seed market has grown rapidly in recent years and is currently estimated at about 37 billion US dollars. India is ranked 6th with a market size of 1,300 million US dollars. The New Policy on Seed Development of 1988 has stimulated major growth in the industry as it attracted a lot of investment in seed business from seed companies. Given the growth of the seed sector in recent years, India has the potential to become the foremost player in the seed export business in the developing world with prospective markets in Asia, Africa and South America. But India’s present share is less than 2% in the international market. I hope that with our enabling environment the seed trading export share will increase and we must look to achieve at least 10% share.’
Addressing the Congress, Minister of State, Prof. KV Thomas, emphasised on the need to increase the varietal replacement in addition to increasing the seed replacement ratio (SRR) by encouraging farmers to go for latest seeds which are better adapted to the changing climatic conditions and are resistant to new disease and pests. As the cultivable land is stagnant, higher productivity is the only way for food security. The role of high yielding seeds is very crucial in raising crop productivity, he said.
The three-day National Congress is being attended by about 200 policy makers, researchers, plant breeders, seed producers and regulators. Besides the government departments, agriculture universities and research organisations, seed companies in public and private sectors are participating in the Congress.