MP wakes up to seed replacement

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A low seed replacement rate (SRR) was one of the main reasons for low productivity in Madhya Pradesh but the realisation has finally dawned on farmers in the agrarian state. SRR is a measure of how much of the total area of crop has been sown with certified, quality seeds rather than farm-saved seeds.

MP’s SRR for main crops such as soybean and wheat has increased over the last couple of years, and is inching towards 33 per cent. Since certified seeds cost more, MP farmers had been avoiding them unlike their counterparts in states such as Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra, where the SRR is higher.

Several seed cooperative societies have come up in recent times, ensuring a steady supply of certified seeds. From 174 primary societies in 2005-2006, the number has increased to 2,048. Of these, 622 are members of the MP State Cooperative Seed Production and Marketing Federation Ltd that was formed in 2004. The federation provides breeder seeds to these cooperatives and in turn markets seeds they produce. In 2006, the federation procured 780 quintals and 679 quintals breeder seeds from these societies for kharif and rabi crops respectively. In 2012-13, the corresponding figures are 2,200 and 3,500 quintals.

It’s the certified seeds (those that are cultivated, monitored and certified by official agencies) where the numbers are very impressive. From the 2.11 lakh quintals produced from 19,802 hectares in 2006, the corresponding figures in 2011-12 were a record production of 10.29 lakh quintals from 98,814 hectares.

A low SRR in pulses continues to be a source of concern in MP, the country’s pulse bowl. The average all-India acreage of pulses is 230.87 lakh hectare. In 2006-07, the distribution of certified/quality seeds for the pulses crop was 9.63 lakh quintals. The SRR, 10.41 per cent, rose in 2010-11 to 22.51 per cent with the distribution of 20.83 lakh quintals.

The certified seed programme had seen irregularities such as marketing of spurious seeds by societies in the last couple of years, leading to litigation and cancellation of licences. Many societies could not establish they sourced the breeder seeds from recognised agencies. Despite the irregularities, the cooperative sector has the lion’s share in the supply of certified seeds by government agencies in MP. Private players are active mainly in cotton.

According to the MP State Seed and Agriculture Development Federation’s joint director (seeds) Rajesh Paliwal, SRR in main crops has substantially increased. He says in

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