Financials Express, September 10, 2014
A latest study found a number of Bangladeshi rice seeds popular with farmers in India and suggested formalising the seed trade to mutual benefits of both the countries.
The study, conducted by CUTS International, a Jaipur-based research organisation of India, revealed such findings and recommended instruction of formal seed trade between the two countries.
Local seed traders, however, do not agree.
They point out many tariff and non-tariff barriers in India that might deny Bangladesh its due share of the benefits.
Their fear is that such type of official trade will favour the other side and contribute to further widening of the two-way trade gap.
CUTS in its study found a number of Bangladesh-developed seeds of high-yielding varieties of rice very much popular to the farmers of some states of India.
Quoting field-level data, it says many Bangladesh-invented HYVs, such as BR 8, BR 9, BR 11 and BR 12, are smuggled out to India.
Apart from these HYV varieties, a Bangladeshi hybrid variety named Hira is widely used in West Bengal.
Similarly in Bangladesh, Indian varieties like Swarna, Parijat, Rajendra-Shweta and Minikit are used by many rice farmers.
Swarna and Minikit are widely used because of their greater yield and Parijat gained popularity because of its shorter maturity period.
Opposing the research recommendation, Mohammed Masum, chairman of Supreme Seeds, a leading seed company in Bangladesh, said there are many tariff and non-tariff barriers fencing the Indian seed market.
“We don’t believe we will get any benefit if there is official trade going to begin between the countries in the context of seed trade,” Mr Masum said.
Citing a recent example about Bangladesh’s export to India, Mr Masum said a variety of bitter gourd was favoured by Indian farmers and they wanted to import the kitchen item from Bangladesh.
“But many barriers in India had blocked the way for the potential export.”
Asadul Amin Dadan, general secretary of Bangladesh Seed Association, said both Bangladesh government and the local seed importers have yet to consider formal procurement from India so far as rice seed is concerned.
He said Bangladesh mainly imports from China, and mostly foundation seeds.
Mr Dadan said there is need for more study as to whether Bangladesh really gains from the official trade, before taking any decision in this connection.
On the other hand, Dr. AK Enamul Haque, a senior researcher at the Dhaka-based ERG, said India should first of all remove all barriers to access to its market for Bangladesh-developed seeds.
“We may raise our trade with India in this particular area as many Bangladeshi varieties are very much popular in some Indian states,” Dr Haque said.
Dr. Haque, chairman of Economics department at the United International University, who is familiar with CUTS, said quality seed procurement is important for both the countries to ensure food security.
He said farmers of both the countries are being deprived of quality seed in the absence of formal trade.
However, the CUTS study listed policy-related problems as roadblocks to formal trade.
These, to name a few, include lack of mutual acceptance of certified seeds, adequate seed-testing laboratories, delay in issuance of quarantine certificates and lacking in harmonised certification process.
It said India takes much time in issuing quarantine certificates.
By contrast, this process takes only around 24 hours in Bangladesh..
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