Amid the lockdown in major cities fighting against Covid-19, the Indian seed industry has urged the Centre and State governments to make the inter-State movement of seeds and other Agri inputs easier, as March and May are crucial for preparing seeds for the forthcoming Kharif season.
On the other hand, many state governments have declared a lockdown and closed borders, except for essential commodities as a precautionary measure to stop the spread of Covid-19.
As per reports, although seeds fall under said essential commodities under the Essential Commodities Act, the Cabinet Secretary has not explicitly mentioned the seeds sector into the essential commodity.
Moreover, the National Seed Association of India (NSAI) and the Federation of Seed Industry of India – independently wrote to the government to ensure the movement of seeds.
Supply of Essential Commodity amid Lockdown
NSAI Executive Director RK Trivedi said in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal said, “Lakhs of acres of seed crop is planted in the rabi season, which is now at the flowering to harvesting stage. The quality control and production supervisory teams need to monitor the pollination, pre-harvest and harvest operations. Similarly, the quality assurance teams need to conduct inspections, carry out grow out test operations as well as laboratory testing. Finally, all the seeds need to be processed, packed and distributed across the country so that they reach through millions of retailers to the needy farmers”.
As per the report, the letter urged the government to allow staff and workers of seed companies to continue functioning and to permit hassle-free movement of seed crops from farmers’ fields to processing centres, between different processing centres, and from processing centres to distributors and retailers so that farmers can get seeds on time for Kharif sowing. The NSAI wanted the government to issue circulars to all States clarifying this.
“There should be an opening of ‘green lanes’/special food lanes at national and State toll booths, check-posts and on highways where food and agricultural input delivery vehicles can pass unhindered and are not subjected to roadblocks which might have been put up to restrict the movement of people and other materials to fight the virus. The special food lanes will allow smooth passage of all vehicles carrying essential food commodities and agri-inputs,” it said.
FSII Director-General Ram Kaundinya said, “The government must support the uninterrupted and high-speed operation of seed factories, especially in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The government may consider allowing offices, which provide critical services like laboratory testing and issuance of phytosanitary permits, to remain open with a minimal workforce”.