Domestic seed producers, who have strong production and distribution networks, and multi-national seed firms that have a strong research and development presence have decided to set up a common self-regulatory platform to facilitate the smooth introduction of new seed technologies and hassle-free licensing mechanism, ending years of litigation and continuous skirmishes.

Both parties will chalk out clear processes and minor details to eliminate confusion and trigger points. The industry expects to introduce the framework soon and process at least one test case in the first year.

“The two key knotty issues between the groups are licensing mechanism and royalty issues. We have addressed them in a scientific manner. We hope this will put a full-stop to the mistrust and ensure transparency,” a top seed industry executive said.

Lead to higher yield, income

Representatives from NSAI (National Seed Association of India) and Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) have met several times to arrive at a consensus and prepare the draft framework.

The NSAI, which predominantly represents the domestic seed industry, is pinning hopes on a common framework.

“It is going to offer fair and non-discriminatory access to traits to all breeders. The framework would pave the way for better variety development and will lead to increased productivity and farm incomes,” NSAI President and Nuziveedu Seeds Managing Director M Prabhakara Rao told BusinessLine.

The bone of contention between the two sides has been the technology provider’s stringent controls to give technology licence to a seed producer.

FSII President and Raasi Seeds Founder M Ramasami said the new mechanism would help clear doubts in technology providers. “On the other side, the government side it is worried (about the happenings in the seed industry). It has also been addressed. We have arrived at a reasonable understanding on trait fee,” he said.

Draft Framework

Ram Kaundinya, Director-General of FSII, has said a draft of the framework is ready and will be introduced very soon.

He said there was no new genetically-modified trait introduced since 2006 and that technology upgradation was badly needed in cotton to tackle issues like pink bollworm. “This framework would address broad licensing issues subject to certain criteria to ensure good technical capability and stewardship,” he said.

It would propose an affordable trait fee range to keep the final price within the reach of farmers. “It will have a telescopic rate of trait fee, ensuring a gradual reduction after five years of introduction of a trait,” he said.

Another key element of the framework is that the trait value would be paid as long as trait is delivering the promised value. This will apply till the telescopic rate brings it to zero.

The proposed self-regulatory mechanism will have an independent body to help with implementation and address grievances from stakeholders.

“The independent body will have representation from all stakeholders,” he said.