Sale of rice, maize, cotton, bajra and vegetable seeds may drop 20% this kharif season because many seed processing units in are running at 50% capacity, and logistics remains a challenge. Seed companies are also worried about falling exports of seeds.
There may be a decline in seed sales due to labour shortage and other factors connected to utilisation of plant capacity, leading to lower seed availability,” said B Yogesh, chief - sales, marketing and supply chain, at Rallis India, a crop service firm of the Tata Group. “We assume that the last-mile delivery to a village-level retailer and farmer may be a problem, considering various levels of containment zones created at district levels,” he said.
Companies said that the drop in sales can be 20% and that some states may provide subsidised seeds to distressed farmers even as transportation is improving.
May is a crucial month for seed companies as kharif planting in large parts of the country peaks in June.
Currently, planting of cotton and few pulses has started in central and north while that of vegetables is progressing across the country, companies said.
“The season is evolving and currently we see a drop in sales of seed for the season,” said Kamal Zunzunwala, promoter of Jalna-based Safal Seeds and Biotech. He said it’s becoming difficult to send vegetables seeds to locations like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar from Maharashtra as courier companies were not working.
Companies and analysts said farmers are also facing cashflow issues due to challenges in sale of the rabi crop and lower commodity prices which will hurt sales.
Priyanka Mallick, managing director of agriculture-focused market research firm Q&Q Research Insights, said farmers in Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh expect seed prices to increase due to black marketing while 60% of farmers in Bihar expect shortage of seed, fertilisers and chemicals this kharif season.
The lockdown has also impacted both imports and exports of vegetable seeds.
Exports to the US, Europe and South East Asian countries have dropped by 12-15% as cargo flight are charging three times higher fare than normal, Zunzunwala of Safal Seeds said. Imports of seeds of coriander, cabbage, carrot, beetroot, cauliflower and tomatoes from Italy, France, the US and Japan have also been impacted, he said.