Agri Business

Maharashtra govt tells firms to disclose tech used in production of hybrid seeds on packets

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on November 17, 2020 Published on November 17, 2020

NSAI oppose move, claiming it will result in higher cost and will hinder inter-State movement of seeds

The Maharashtra government has ordered companies selling hybrid cotton seeds in the State to mention the technology used in production on the seed packets.

The move has been opposed by the companies as the Seed Act, 1966 states no provision for regulating seed production. It only pertains to seed quality.

Sources at the State government said that from the next cotton season (summer of 2021), seed companies will have to mention whether the hybrid cotton seeds have been produced by conventional emasculation method or male sterility technique.

Indra Shekhar Singh, Director (Policy and Outreach) of National Seed Association of India (NSAI) told BusinessLine that the State government wants the rules of the seeds business to be strict. He said, “But if the rules are not affecting the seed industry in a conducive manner then what is the need for such rules. The rules are also not affecting farmers as there is no clarity in what manner farmers will benefit. What advantage the farmers will draw by knowing if a particular packet of seeds is producing by using a certain technology?”

This is adding more red tape and it will increase the final cost of the seed packets. The data, which has sought to be printed on the packets, is already with the government. Companies seeking seed certification have to submit such data, he said.

The National Seed Association of India (NSAI) in a letter to the Director of Agriculture at Maharashtra’s Commissionerate of Agriculture said that neither the Seeds Act, 1966 nor the Seeds (Control) Order, 1983 regulates seed production. The Seeds Act regulates only seed quality under Section 7, read with Section 6, the NSAI claimed.

Seed association opposes move

Similarly, the Seeds (Control) Order regulates seed quality under clause 8A, read with Section 6 of the Seeds Act, 1966 and also regulates the seed business through the licensing mechanism.

The Maharashtra Cotton Seeds (Regulation of Supply, Distribution, Sale and Fixation of Sale Price) Act, 2009 also does not provide for the regulation of seed production and the said Act attracts Doctrine of Repugnancy, as all its provisions are covered by central legislations and is liable to be set aside if challenged on this ground, the letter said.

Ajeet Mulay, Managing Director of Green Gold Seeds, said that the Centre’s seed law prescribes a certain format for the label. The seed company cannot deviate from that. He said that adding details in the labels, which are not required, will lead to other States not accepting seeds from Maharashtra-based companies.

He added that seed companies from other States will not be able to sell the seeds in Maharashtra because of such non-standard label requirements.

Inter-State movement

Muley, who is also the President of the Seed Industries Association of Maharashtra, in a letter to the Director of Agriculture at Commissionerate of Agriculture said that most of the companies are operating in more than one State. The State-wise difference in labelling requirements will make the inter-State movement of packed seeds difficult given the short market window.

It may lead to a shortage of seeds and farmers may suffer. Moreover, inventory management will become very difficult for companies leading to a situation of artificial shortage in one state while surplus in an adjoining state, the letter said.

Senior Maharashtra Government officials were not available for comments.

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Published on November 17, 2020
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