April 21, 2024
Vegetable Seed

Vegetable Seed: Ensuring Food Security and Improving Livelihood

Introduction to Vegetable Seeds

Vegetable seeds are seeds of plant species which are grown for edible vegetable products. Common examples are seeds of tomato, capsicum, beans, potato and many other leafy and root vegetables. Vegetable seeds play a vital role in ensuring food and nutritional security while also improving the livelihood of small and marginal farmers.

Importance of High Quality Seeds

Use of high quality seeds is one of the most important factors determining the yield of vegetable crops. Quality seeds of disease resistant hybrid varieties help farmers get higher produce from their land. This directly translates to higher incomes. Sub standard or spurious seeds often fail to germinate properly or result in diseased and low quality crops. It is therefore essential for farmers to procure seeds only from trusted and reputed dealers. Government agencies also perform seed certification and quality control checks to provide assurance on seed quality.

Popular Vegetable Seed Varieties

Some of the popular hybrid Vegetable Seed varieties grown in different agro-climatic zones of the country include – Tomato Hybrid PS-1 and Hybrid HAR 837 (Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh), Cauliflower Hybrid Pusa Ketaki and Pusa Snowball K-1 (North India), Potato Seed TPS-86, Kufri Chipsona 1 and 2 (North, Central and West India), Okra Hybrid Arka Abhay (Multiple states), Carrot Hybrid Henderson (Punjab, Haryana), Capsicum Hybrid Indra and California Wonder (Maharashtra, Karnataka), Cucumber Hybrid Pusa Sanyog and Long Green (North India). Breeder seeds and foundation seeds of these varieties are produced by various public and private institutions.

Seed Production and Supply Chain

Quality seeds reach farmers through a well established seed production and supply chain network. Breeder / foundation seeds are produced by various public and private seed organizations. These are further multiplied to produce certified / quality declared seeds by accredited seed growers, seed production farms and seed companies. Seed processing plants clean, grade and pack the seeds. Traders and retailers then sell these seeds to farmers. Large seed companies also operate their own production, processing and marketing network. Government programs like National Food Security Mission support seed infrastructure development and distribution.

Role of Seed Companies

Private seed companies are playing a major role in development and commercialization of high yielding hybrids. They invest in research to develop new seed varieties suitable for diverse agro-climatic zones and diseases. Companies follow international seed production standards and employ scientific seed production and processing protocols. Well renowned seed brands ensure quality and reliability. Companies also provide agronomic extension and after sales support to improve crop yields. Public-private partnerships help transfer technologies from lab to farm. However, exorbitant seed prices remain a concern for marginal farmers in some regions.

Seed Replacement Rate

India’s average seed replacement rate is still low at 25-30% against the recommended rate of 60-80% for most crops. Higher seed replacement ensures adoption of improved varieties and better yields over time. Social campaigns and subsidies under National Food Security Mission and various state schemes are bridging this gap and increasing replacement rates. Full seed replacement leads to 20-30% increase in productivity levels besides other economic benefits. However, affordability remains an issue for small and marginal farmers in seed replacement.

Future Opportunities and Challenges

The Indian seed industry has immense growth opportunities given the rising population and area under cultivation. Adoption of hybrids in vegetables and introduction of genetically modified crop varieties will further drive the industry. However, issues like low basic seed production, inadequate infrastructure, lack of proper seed regulation enforcement, climate change impacts on seed production remain challenges. Increased private and public R&D investments, development of biotic and abiotic stress tolerant varieties and improvement in seed replacement rates will boost sector growth sustainably in the coming years.

Seed Quality Testing

Seed testing is critical to ensure quality and standards. Central and state seed testing laboratories conduct tests for genetic, physical and physiological parameters as per Seed Act, 1966 and Seed Rules, 1968. Tests check for germination percentage, physical purity, moisture content and also hybrid purity in case of hybrids. Seed testing certificates provide legal backing in case of complaints on seed quality. Third party accredited private seed testing labs are also coming up to meet the increasing audit requirements with time-bound reports. Seed testing is mandatory as per law before marketing.

Role of Farmers and FPOs

Progressive farmers are adopting latest hybrids and improved agronomic practices for higher productivity. Some are also venturing into seed production and contract farming for companies. Farmer producer organizations are playing a lead role in seed production, processing, quality monitoring, and collective marketing. They aggregate demand of small farmers and facilitate supplying seeds and technologies at their doorsteps. FPOs enable smallholders to adopt improved seed varieties and integrated crop management techniques for improved livelihoods through collective action.

*Note:
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it