Informal trading of low quality Indian seeds puts country’s farmers at stake

Financial Express, Dhaka, November 24, 2013
The trading of uncertified and low quality seeds through the borders with India has put the country’s farmers and the seed sector at stake, experts said Saturday.

They also suggested import of seeds from China which are safer than that of Indian ones.

They were speaking at a country- level workshop on ‘Barriers to Rice.

Seed Trade Between India and Bangladesh’ at Unnayan Shamannay office in the city. Unnayan Shamannay organised the event with the support of CUTS International and Bill and Melinda Foundation. Shamannay lead researcher Mahfuz Kabir presented the keynote paper while former chairman of Bangladesh Krishi Bank Khondker Ibrahim Khaled chaired the session.

The speakers said there is a demand for 1.15 million metric tonnes of all kinds of seeds every year in the country. Of the total demand, about 0.35 million tonnes are rice seed. But supply at the institutional level is limited. The total quantity of seeds supplied by government and private institutions is 0.61 million tonnes or 53 per cent of the total demand. The rest 47 per cent seeds are supplied informally.

They added that Indian seeds supplied informally through borders will destroy the country’s seed sector. They also suggested strong monitoring at the borders if Bangladesh wants to increase import of seeds from India.

They also called upon the authority concerned to make registration of distributors and sellers mandatory.

Ibrahim Khaled said the seed market has been expanding worldwide. Bangladesh is far ahead in rice production than India which indicates that our seed quality is better than India. But there is a scope of expanding the legal seed trading between the two countries which will be beneficial for both the neighbours. Therefore safety of seeds is more important than trade barriers.

Private seed traders– Supreme Seeds, Lal Teer, Petrocen Bangladesh, Brac and Pran RFL took part in the seminar. Bangaldesh Seed Association secretary general Asadul Amin said China is in a better position for seed import because of quality. Local entrepreneurs are in a better position in producing seeds which India wants to give, he added. Now the mother- parent seeds of hybrid rice have to be imported from China that is not easily available in India, he further said.

Seeds certification agency director AH Iqbal Ahmad said about 108 hybrid seed varieties are available where China dominates in parent lines. China has 89 parent seeds while India has only 14. Besides, Philippines and Bangladesh Rice Research Institute have four varieties.

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