The share of the public sector in seed production in the country reduced from 42.72 per cent in 2017-18 to 35.54 per cent in 2020-21, while the share of the private sector grew from 57.28 per cent to 64.46 per cent during the same period, highlighting the rising role of private companies in India’s seed sector.
The Standing Committee on Agriculture’s 25th report on Demands for Grants (2021-22) presented to the Lok Sabha in March this year quoted the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare stating that about 540 private seed companies, including those of Indian origin and multinationals, operate in the country. Of this, about 80 companies have their own research and development programmes. The rest produce and market the seed of public sector varieties and are not involved in breeder seed production.
The report adds that most of the private seed companies are involved in the production of foundation and certified/ truthfully labelled seed.
The primary data by the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) shows that 53.25 per cent share of the public sector and 46.75 per cent of the private sector is in the total formal system of seed supply. Most of the varieties multiplied and marketed by the private sector companies are from the public sector.
In the case of wheat, rice, maize and mustard, more than 300 companies have licensed the varieties developed by ICAR and the quality seed of newly released varieties is being made available to farmers.
Research and Potential
The National Agricultural Research System under the aegis of ICAR has developed more than 5,700 varieties of different field and horticultural crops since 1969. From 2014 till January 2021, a total of 1,575 varieties of 70 field crops have been developed, which include 770 varieties of cereals, 235 of oilseeds, 236 of pulses, 170 of fibre crops, 104 of forage crops, 52 of sugarcane and 8 of other crops. In addition, 288 varieties of horticultural crops have also been released and notified.
The Federation of the Seed Industry of India (FSII) claims that the Indian seed industry is worth Rs 18,000 crore and is constantly growing. Looking at the country’s well-developed seed industry and expertise in the sector, it has the potential to become a global hub, according to the FSII.
Currently, seed export by India is less than Rs 1,000 crore per annum and the annual global seed trade is $14 billion (Rs 10,460 crore). Therefore, India has the potential to capture a 10 per cent share, which is $1.4 billion or Rs 747 crore by 2028, as per the FSII data.
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