Seed Revolution In India
Indian seed industry has evolved as a multi-branched industry with immense involvement of private players and giving more focus on research and development.
In the Initial stage, Indian seed industry consisted of two national organizations namely National Seed Corporation (NSC) which was established in 1963, and for about 13 years, it was the main organization in charge of production and marketing of commercial seeds. Second national agency was the States Farms Corporation of India Limited (SFCL), was formed in 1969 with authority of producing breeder, foundation, and certified high yielding varieties of seeds. It has 12 large mechanized farms situated over 8 different states.
During 1970-80’s, 13 State Seeds Corporations were set up on the model of the Terai Seed Development Corporation as a combined effort of the G. B. Pant Agricultural University, Uttar Pradesh and the World Bank, which financed two consecutive National Seed Projects in 1977-78. SSC majorly took over the role of the NSC in individual states.
Bharat Dogra mentioned that the Indian seed industry has been and continues to be depending on foreign funds for its growth. For instance, Johnson E. Douglas – a former seed specialist with Rockefeller Foundation – played a crucial role in situating India’s seed programme in the 1960’s. In 1990-91, National Seed Project III was launched thanks to a third World Bank loan. It was to upgrade the efficiency and infrastructure of the public seed sector (NSC, SFCL, SSC, and the Seed Certification Agency, and the Central and State Seed Testing Laboratories). World Bank loans are not ’neutral’, and the reshaping of the seed sector is highly focused with concepts of cost efficiency and rational investment.
The primary task of the public sector today is to meet the national requirements of the seeds which are demanded in high volume, low value crops like self-pollinated crops such as rice and wheat which are supplied at fixed price by government, NSC, SSC have suffered major losses, because fixed prices do not always tell the actual costs of production, processing, and distribution.
Then gradually private seed firms emerged during the 60’s and the 70’s. NCS benefited a lot of them by providing required technical assistance. Many of them developed their own breeding programmes and released their own improved cultivators. Firms now price their own goods such as sunflower, sorghum and maize. These private hybrids have a vital share in the market. For public breaded varieties, private companies have to agree on given government prices.
The production of hybrid seeds is to a huge part the advantage of the private sector. Of all developed breeding and marketed by private companies until 1993, nearly 70% were hybrids. Since hybrid seeds cannot be increased in farmers’ farms, they must be purchased from the company every time they are grown. This seed replacement rate makes sure that firm sales are good. With high yielding varieties of crops like wheat or rice the case is different for which the replacement rate fluctuates from 9 and 14%.
Private firms are also largely involved in the commercialization of low volume, greater value crops such as vegetable seeds. With more than 500 companies of various sizes, some have links to multinational markets. The private sector contributes a little less than 50 percent to the total requirement of seeds in the country today. In recent years, as there is a deduction in barriers to having foreign firms and Indian companies functioning together, many joint ventures between foreign and Indian firms have entered the seed industry. As a result, lots of states are now wanting to expand the seed industry in their state.
India’s hybrid vegetable seed sales value (in USD million) from 2018 to 2020 was 397.2, 414.3 and 452.8 respectively.
Over the last decade, there has been a significant hybridization driven growth in vegetables. The production of hybrid vegetables doubled from 88.62 million metric ton in 2001-02 to 178.17 metric tons in 2016-17. For instance, tomato, okra and gourds accounted for a major share of total hybrid vegetable seed value in the country, with shares of 9%, 15%, and 11% respectively, in 2018. Moreover, vegetable hybrid seeds were valued at USD 397.21 million in the same year. And 414.3 in 2019 and 452.8 USD Million in 2020. (PH.1)
In 2016 the major part of hybrid seed was cotton which was highest traded amongst others and it covered 41% of hybrid seeds sales. According to the latest market study released by Technavio, the hybrid seeds market in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of almost 13% during the forecast period. (PH 2)
Gubba Cold Storage is also contributing to the seed industry by having 18 facilities all over India and also being India’s first Cold storage with Jumbo Bag Seed preservation. With hundreds of researches at Gubba, Gubba has set up India’s First Global Standards in 2008. Thus, paving the way of modernization in the Indian seed Industry. In 2012, we set up Three Thousand Ton Sub Zero Cold Storage facility at Uppal Hyderabad. Gubba Seed Lab, certified by ISO and NABL caters to the seed testing requirements of the seed industry critical to know how seed behaves in the field. Gubba Germplasm Bank is a unique venture of Gubba to preserve the genetic material of the seed known as Seed Germplasm. In 2021, Gubba came up with its very own Biotechnology lab, to further provide high class testing facility to the seed industry.