2017: Trait licensing guidelines should be finalized
There is an urgent need to implement the current IPR legislations to bring about clarity in access to the GM traits. It will ensure quantum improvement in the breeding of crops, says M Prabhakar Rao , Chairman & Managing Director of Nuziveedu Seeds Limited, during a chit chat with SMART AGRIPOST.
Q. How was the year 2016 for Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd in particular and seed industry in general?
Ans-By and large, it was a good year though cotton area shrank due to drop in commodity prices which resulted in farmers moving away from the crop, due to good monsoon, other crop sowings expanded. There was particularly good growth in corn, paddy, bajra etc. There was a boom in pulse planting.
Q. What kind of technological advancements needed in the seed sector in India?
Ans:The Indian seed industry and the public sector research system under ICAR and State Agriculture Universities are doing excellent work in developing new varieties and hybrids in all the important crops. There is a very good collaboration between the public and private sector. There is also excellent collaboration between the Indian crop research system with the international institutes also. While the country should make efforts for developing new traits using the tools of biotechnology, there is a need to implement the current IPR legislations particularly, the PPVFR Act to bring about clarity in access to the GM traits to the breeders which will contribute substantially for the quantum improvements in the breeding of crops. This clarity also brings more international players to participate in the trait development for the Indian seed sector. The improper implementation resulted in monopolization of Bt cotton over the last 12 years which is now pending adjudication before various courts in the country. We wish the Ministry of Agriculture finalizes the guidelines for trait licensing under the provisions of PPVFR Act based on the inputs given by the National Seed Association of India.
Q. Post demonetization, how do you foresee the business of seed sector in 2017?
Ans: Seed Industry operates on long business cycles. The impact of demonetization is of short term when compared to the Industry business cycles. Indian seed industry is resilient like the Indian agriculture. Therefore, there is a very minor impact on the seed sector.
Q. Do you think reform is required in seed sector?
Ans: The Seeds Act read with the Seed (Control) Order, 1983 has resulted in the substantial growth in the Indian seed industry. Proper implementation of the provisions of these legislations along with the reliefs available to the farmers under the Consumer Protection Act provide all remedies as demanded by the lawmakers. There is no need for a new Seeds Act. The implementation of all the provisions of PPVFR Act will benefit the Seed Industry and the farmers by removing monopoly and encouraging the breeders and farmers.
The Industry expects the exemptions from VAT and Excise Duty to continue in the GST regime. This will encourage the farmers to buy quality seeds and improve the SRR.
The Industry also has been requesting the Government to desist from indulging in seed procurement and distribution with subsidies to the farmers so as to allow a level playing fields to the small, medium and large players. If such environment exists, the private sector can meet the entire demand for cereals, pulses and oil seeds. Due to the competitive disadvantage, currently the Industry is not able to participate in these crops. The Government may pass on the subsidies to the farmers directly through the Kisan credit cards or Jan Dhan Yojana.