Agri Business

Maharashtra farmers irked as government-certified soya seeds fail to germinate

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on June 29, 2020

Over 9,000 soyabean farmers in the Nanded, Parbhani and Hingoli districts of Maharashtra have complained about early germination failure. More complaints continue to pour from other parts of the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions known for soyabean cultivation.

Even as Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has taken serious note of farmers’ complains and promised stringent action, farmers have questioned the seeds certification process and asked if the government will take action against its own officials.

“It is not just a question of bogus seeds sold by private companies, it is also a question of the certification process,” Shetkari Sanghatana President Anil Ghanwat told to BusinessLine. “Many farmers had purchased and sowed certified seeds, and still faced germination problems. Will the government take action against government officials and the certification agency responsible for duping farmers?”

Government-notified varieties of seeds are sold in the market with certification while private companies sell their seeds as ‘truthful seeds’, and the respective company is responsible for any germination failure.

Unseasonal rains had damaged soyabean seed plots, which affected their germination power, as the soya seed is rather delicate.

“The current crisis that farmers are facing is because no proper germination tests were conducted on damaged seeds and these seeds were certificated and approved for sowing. The Maharashtra State Seeds Co Ltd (MSSCL) should shoulder the responsibility,” said Ghanwat.

The MSSCL is involved in the production of breeder and foundation seeds. Seed testing laboratories and State seed certification agencies are established to ensure quality parameters. The MSSCL markets seeds under the ‘Mahabeej’ brand. Ghanwat said most complaints are coming from farmers who have used Mahabeej seeds, though seeds sold by some private players have also not germinated.

Government’s assurance

“There are cases of people with nefarious intentions duping farmers with bogus seeds. I promise you that we will find and punish these people who have cheated our farmers,” said Thackeray recently. State Agriculture Minister Dadaji Bhuse has asked district officials to collect the relevant information from farmers and submit reports.

However, farmers say the government must take action and compensate farmers rather than just give assurances. Soyabean production in India is dominated by Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, which contribute 89 per cent of the total production.

“Farmers are already in distress due to the lockdown and now this problem of soya germination will worsen the situation,” said farmer Prashant Pawar. For the majority of farmers in Marathwada and Vidarbha and in some parts of western Maharashtra, soyabean is the main crop around which their economy revolves.

Published on June 29, 2020

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