Agri Business

Farmers developing own soya, onion seeds worry companies

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on November 18, 2020

Early germination failure of soyabean seeds this July saw farmers join hands against seed companies; farmer organisations and political parties now seem to have thrown in their hats

An increasing number of soybean and onion farmers deciding to develop seed plots, so that they don’t have to buy seeds from private seed companies, has the seed industry worried.

Maharashtra agriculture department is encouraging farmers to develop their own soya seeds and not depend on seed companies, considering the farmers’ complaints about early germination failure of soyabean seeds in July this year. The share of private seed companies in soya seed distribution in Maharashtra is about 60 per cent, according to industry players.

According to reports, there is a requirement of 30 lakh quintal of soya seeds during the kharif season and the agriculture department wants farmers to produce the maximum quantity of seeds for the next season. According to officials, farmers are already producing 10-12 lakh quintal seeds, while the remaining requirement is supplied by the industry.

Also read: Indian seeds to be stored in Global Seed Vault

Now onion farmers are joining soya farmers. Recently, onion farmers bought onion seeds at ₹3,200-3,500 per kg. Last year this time, the rate was about ₹1,700 per kg. The National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF) sold seeds at ₹2,200 per kg. Farmers in Maharashtra buy seeds from private companies or NHRDF only if fellow farmers do not have seeds to sell. Farmers allege that seed companies block supplies to the market to create a shortage.

Now, farmers from Nashik region are encouraging each other to develop seed plots and reduce dependency on seed companies.

However, seed companies have responded with caution saying that though this move can affect the seed business, they are not against farmers producing seeds.

Also read: Maharashtra appoints special counsel to present case against seed companies

SB Wankhede, Executive Director of Seed Industries Association of Maharashtra, said that seed companies will continue to fulfil their responsibilities to provide quality seeds to farmers. “There is enough space for companies in the market to do business,” he said.

However, industry players fear that if more farmers begin developing seeds for themselves, this would affect the business. One industry player requesting anonymity said that farmer organisations and political parties are building the case against seed companies after the soya germination controversy.

Published on November 18, 2020

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