This page features a compilation and selection of Indian seed industry news briefs, summaries and leads, with an emphasis on events that impact or affect provinces, regions, counties, cities and locales in the Republic of India.
The news here covers trends and events regarding seed regulation, testing, legislation, phytosanitary issues, intellectual property rights, biotechnology (genomics, gene-editing) plant breeding, agronomy and cropping, with original sources linked.
This page will be updated throughout the year, with most recent briefs listed first.
Agricultural Support Boosts Crop Cultivation: May 26: The directorate of agriculture is facilitating smooth paddy crop sowing during the upcoming Kharif season. They have distributed Jaya, Jyoti, and Karjat paddy seeds at a 50% subsidy. Jackfruit cultivation is also being promoted with high-yield Kerala varieties. Rain-resistant vegetable seeds like lady finger and cluster beans are available at 50% subsidy. The department offers affordable planting materials and cultivation schemes for mango and coconut crops. Tractors are available for rent at subsidized rates, and farmers can receive a 50% subsidy for other farmers' work. Source
Analysis of fungal and insect infestations in wheat and rice: May 25: In an academic study published in Nature, wheat and rice samples, sourced from Eastern UP and Gurgaon district Haryana, were analyzed for moisture content and subjected to mycological studies. A total of 16 and 15 different fungal species were identified in wheat and rice samples respectively, with variations observed between the blotter and agar plate methods of analysis. The wheat samples were found to harbor 16 fungal species in the blotter method, while 13 were observed in the agar plate method. For rice, the agar plate method detected 15 species, while the blotter method found 12. Insect investigations revealed the presence of Tribolium castaneum in wheat samples and Sitophilus oryzae in rice samples. Notably, four organisms - Aspergillus flavus, A. niger, Sitophilus oryzae, and Tribolium castaneum - were found to significantly affect seed weight, germination, and carbohydrate and protein contents of the grains. The study also showed that A. flavus isolate 1 from wheat produced higher aflatoxin B1 levels (1392.940 μg/l), compared to rice isolate 2 (1231.117 μg/l). Source
Major crop production records expected: May 26: India is projected to achieve record-breaking production of major crops, such as rice, wheat, and sugarcane, according to the Union Agriculture Ministry. The estimates indicate a foodgrain production of 3305.34 LMT for the current agricultural year, with significant increases in rice and wheat compared to the previous year. Additionally, pulses, soybean, rapeseed, mustard, and oilseeds are expected to reach record levels. Sugarcane production is set to hit a new high. These positive outcomes are attributed to farmer efforts, research contributions, and farmer-friendly policies implemented by the government. Source
Record wheat harvest expected despite unseasonal rains: May 25: India is set to achieve a record wheat harvest of 112.7 million tonnes in 2023, despite lower crop yields due to unseasonal rains. The country's wheat output fell to 107.74 million tonnes in 2022. India will limit wheat exports to replenish reserves and stabilize prices. Rice production estimate for 2022-23 has been revised upward to 135.5 million tonnes. Measures were taken to address concerns over production, including banning broken rice exports and imposing a 20% duty. Diplomatic channels will be considered for broken rice supply to other countries. Source
Telangana Aims to Be Global Seed Hub: May 24: Telangana State Agriculture Minister, S Niranjan Reddy, emphasized the state's goal of becoming a seed hub for the world. Speaking at the Seed Mela-2023, he urged steps to reduce seed imports and highlighted government efforts to improve agriculture and support farmers. The accessibility of irrigation water has increased across Telangana, and Reddy encouraged farmers to prioritize seed production due to high demand. He stressed the need for soil conservation and increased yields through innovative technologies. The Minister called for reduced use of chemicals and promoted fodder production for cattle. The government plans to establish food processing zones and distributed seeds to farmers during the event. Source
IIWBR to produce basmati and non-basmati seeds: May 19: Due to the need to meet the growing demand for quality paddy seeds and leverage available crop resources during the off-season, the ICAR-Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research (IIWBR) has partnered with ICAR-IARI, Delhi, to produce high-quality seed varieties of basmati rice. The IIWBR will not directly sell the seeds but will supply them to IARI for distribution. Known for its successful wheat varieties, the institute aims to expand to paddy production. Under a recently signed MoU with IARI Director Dr. AK Singh, IIWBR will cultivate the latest seed varieties, such as PUSA 1847 and PUSA 1692, starting from June 1. The seed production process is expected to be completed by the end of October. Source
Six countries cry foul to WTO about India farm subsidies: April 7: Australia, Canada, Paraguay, Thailand, Ukraine, and the United States have filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO), accusing India of violating global trade rules by providing excessive subsidies to its wheat and rice farmers. Despite agreeing to limit market price supports to 10% of crop value, India's subsidies for wheat and rice were reported as 81% and 94%, respectively, during the 2020/21 season. The complaining countries argued that India had been evasive in responding to inquiries about these subsidies. Over a seven-year period, subsidy levels for rice and wheat steadily increased, reaching 3.18 trillion rupees and 1.7 trillion rupees, respectively, in the final year. The United States had previously filed a counter-notification in 2018 regarding India's rice and wheat subsidies. The trade group USA Rice and U.S. wheat associations have called for action against India's subsidies, claiming that they distort international markets and harm farmers worldwide. India is the largest exporter of rice globally and ranks second in rice and wheat production, though its wheat exports are relatively small. Source.
AP Chief directs seed disbursement: April 25: The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, has directed the officials of the Agriculture department to disburse the YSR Rythu Bharosa installment to eligible farmers in May before the kharif season begins. He also asked them to prepare the list of eligible farmers for Rythu Bharosa at the earliest, which would be made available at all village secretariats by May 10.During a review meeting of the Agricultural, Marketing, Cooperation and Civil Supplies departments, the CM also suggested that the distribution of fertilisers, seeds and pesticides to the farmers through Rythu Bharosa Kendras (RBKs) should be taken up more efficiently and the quantity should be increased every year. He emphasized the need to create awareness among farmers on different varieties of paddy which are in high demand abroad, and to keep the seeds ready and available for farmers to opt for exports in the quest of getting the best price for their produce. The CM also urged the officials to explore the possibility of getting a higher price for farmers on Rabi paddy procurement, and to ensure that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) is paid to the farmers felicitating official intervention wherever necessary. He stressed the need to improve the SOP of the CM app and to prominently display the toll-free number on the receipts of paddy procurement to enable farmers to lodge complaints and provide important suggestions on cultivation. Finally, the CM asked the officials to ensure that there is at least one godown in each RBK jurisdiction. The officials informed him that they have taken steps to construct 1005 godowns, and 206 of them are ready while the construction of another 93 was in their final stages. The work on the rest would be completed by July. Source.
FAO recognizes India's strength in the seed sector: April 18: The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations said the Indian seed sector could be useful for other countries. According to a statement by India's agriculture ministry after a bilateral meeting with FAO officials at the ongoing G20 Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists, the FAO has expressed interest in extending cooperation in extension services, and the Indian delegation led by Himanshu Pathak and Philippe Mauguin from France discussed cooperation in areas such as crop diversification, biofortified crops, and climate change. Around 80 foreign delegates are participating in the three-day meeting, which focuses on sustainable agriculture and food systems. Source.
Wacky weather threatens winter crops: March 16: India’s winter-sown crops, such as wheat, rapeseed and chickpeas, are at risk of damage from untimely rains and hailstorms just before harvesting begins, according to industry and weather department officials. The India Meteorological Department has warned key growing regions in central, northern and western states that they could receive more rain and hailstorms in the next 10 days. A drop in wheat production could make it difficult for New Delhi to replenish inventories, while lower rapeseed output could force the world’s largest edible oils buyer to increase imports of palm oil, soya oil and sunflower oil. The El Nino weather pattern, which could develop in the second half of the year, also poses a threat to cereal and oilseed crops across Asia, potentially heightening concerns over food inflation.
Indian farmers shift from wheat to rapeseed as prices rise: February 6: The shift is leading to steady wheat plantings despite record high prices, according to farm ministry data. This shift could help the country reduce overseas purchases of palm oil, soyoil, and sunflower oil. Despite hopes of substantial wheat cultivation returns, farmers in the central state of Madhya Pradesh switched to oilseeds instead due to even better returns, leading to a lower-than-expected planting area for wheat. Winter-sown crops, including rice and rapeseed, reached record highs, with total winter-sown crops reaching 72.07 million hectares. Source.
India working on GM seeds research, trials: India has been at the forefront of adopting advanced farming technologies to boost crop yield, enhance food security, and reduce reliance on imports to feed the country's growing population. However, the use of biotechnology to develop genetically modified (GM) crops, has, until recently, been held back by India's regulatory red tape.
Currently, cotton is the only GM crop permitted for cultivation in India. However, in October 2022, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change approved the cultivation of indigenously developed GM mustard seeds, which could hit the consumer market in around two years.
In addition to GM mustard, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and other institutions are working on genetically modified seeds for 13 crops, including rice, wheat, sugarcane, potato, chickpeas, maize, and banana. These advancements aim to enhance crop productivity, quality, and improved ability to withstand challenges driven by pests, pathogens, and weeds as well as environmental factors.
The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), which is responsible for evaluating proposals and granting approvals for GM crop research and cultivation in India has currently received requests for a number of event selection trials, including GE bananas, where scientists are attempting to increase iron and provitamin A content; GE potatoes, testing the KJ66 potato hybrid for resistance against late blight; evaluating the resistance of GE maize to moths and glyphosate herbicide tolerance; GE cotton lines for pink bollworm resistance; GE rubber, using a tobacco-based osmotin gene to improve tolerance to living and environmental stress factors.
Despite the potential benefits, the adoption of GM crops in India has faced opposition from environmentalists, activists, and some farmers. Critics argue that GM mustard, for example, would require widespread use of herbicides and pose a threat to honey bees. India's Supreme Court is currently hearing a challenge to the decision allowing an environmental release of mustard hybrid "DMH-11" for seed production and other tests before commercial release.
India's primary goal is to secure food for its population of nearly 1.4 billion, which will soon overtake China's. The adoption of GM crops could help the country reduce its reliance on imports, such as the record USD 19 billion spent on importing vegetable oils in the last fiscal year. The recent disruption of imports and price increases due to the war in Ukraine has further emphasized the importance of self-sufficiency in agriculture. Additionally, scientists argue that India's expanding population and diminishing cultivable land necessitate the adoption of more efficient farming technologies such as GM crops to improve yields, enhance stress tolerance, and contribute to food security.
The development and adoption of gene-edited food crops in India are still in the early stages, with numerous hurdles to overcome. However, if successful, these crops could play a significant role in transforming India's agricultural sector, ensuring food security, and reducing the country's reliance on imports.
Seed traceability mechanism to launch in Jammu and Kashmir: February 15: The respective state seed certification agencies in Jammu and Kashmir are set to go digital with the centralized online seed traceability portal, SATHI (Seed Authentication, Traceability and Holistic Inventory.). The portal captures parameters such as grower details, seed testing details, lot details, and certification agency to improve transparency and efficiency in seed certification, monitoring, and traceability. The initiative aims to help farmers buy quality and genuine seeds, curb the problem of spurious seeds, and improve the credibility of seed producers. Through smartphone scanning, farmers can cross-check seed details and initiate action against offenders. SATHI aims to automate tracking for the entire life cycle of seed, including seed production, certification, traceability, and supply chain, and to strengthen seed exports to developed countries by ensuring conformity with seed quality and improved efficiency. Source
ICAR varieties 'stabilized’ India food grains, ag tech increased production: February 15: Over the past eight years since 2014, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) reports that it has released a total of 2,122 crop varieties of food crops, oil seeds, pulses, commercial crops, horticultural crops, potential crops and fodder crops. In a Government of India press release it was revealed that Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar informed parliament that those ICAR varieties “have stabilized the production and increased the productivity and production of food grains in India”. As the apex body for coordinating, guiding, and managing research and education in agriculture in the country, ICAR is actively working toward development of new technologies in the farm sector, including genetic enhancement of plants, animals and fishes for higher productivity. According to the release, the production of cereals, pulses, oilseeds, sugarcane, and milk increased thanks to agricultural innovations, going from 234.87, 17.15, 275.11, 3623.33, and 146.31 million tonnes in 2014–15 to 288.03, 27.69, 376.96, and 209.96 million tonnes in 2021–22, respectively. Source.
Record mustard seed sowing expected to yield record production: February 7: Due to the highest-ever reported mustard-seed seeding of 9.8 million hectares (MH) this season, reinforced by ‘favorable weather’ conditions in important growing zones, output is projected to set a record. Aiming to curb India’s reliance on imported edible oils, the government is optimistic, indicated by P K Rai, Director of Rapeseed-Mustard Research, Directorate of Rapeseed-Mustard Research in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, who noted that standing crop conditions were robust while losses from ground frost and hailstorm in parts of Haryana last month were ‘localized’. Mustard seed harvesting is anticipated to start towards the end of this month, when traders expect prices to be no less than 20% higher than the government sponsored Minimum Support Price of 5,450 rupees per quintal. Preliminary projections put mustard seed production at or above 12.5 million tonnes in the 2022-23 crop year, ending this June. If realized this would be a 7% increase over the previous year. India imports 1.5 trillion rupees' worth of edible oil during the current fiscal year, or nearly 56% of its yearly consumption. It generates over 44% of the domestically used edible oil, with mustard the largest share at 39%, followed by soybeans (24%), and groundnuts (7%). A record 9.8 MH of mustard has been estimated to be sown during this rabi season, which is a 64% increase above the 6.4 MH average for the previous five years. The mustard-sown area was 9.1 MH in 2021–2022. Today, the combined proportion of Rajasthan (40%), Madhya Pradesh (14%), Uttar Pradesh (9%) and Haryana (7%), in the mustard seed sown area in the nation this season, is 70%. West Bengal (7%), Assam (3.4%), and Bihar (2%) are some of the other top seeded states.Source.
‘Flood-tolerant’ rice developed in Puducherry: February 12: Scientists at an agriculture institute in Karaikal have developed a new rice variety that has shown flood tolerance traits. Developed with the support of India’s Department of Biotechnology, the KKL(R)2 variety derived by “crossing ADT 46 and Swarna Sub 1 through the ‘Marker Assisted Backcross Method’ three times”. It reportedly matures in 135 days and specifically “ tolerant to flash floods and submergence for a period of 14 days during the tillering stage.” Source.
GM Mustard deemed safe, approved for environmental release: February 7: The Indian government has approved a Genetically Modified (GM) hybrid variety of mustard for “environmental release”. According to a government press release, the DMH-11 variety and its parental lines were given a formal nod during the 147th meeting of Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) on 18 October, 2022, specifically for “its seed production and testing as per existing ICAR guidelines, conditions imposed by the GEAC while recommending the environmental release of GM mustard hybrid DMH-11 and its parental lines; and other extant rules/regulations prior to commercial release.” The hybrid DMH-11 was successfully tested against check varieties during two stages of Biosafety Research Level Trials (BRL) in 2010-11 to 2014-15, respectively. Subsequent field trials were conducted for three years “to assess the impact on human health and environment as per the stipulated guidelines and applicable rules.” Moreover, the release notes that “Extensive studies carried out on toxicity, allergenicity, compositional analysis, field trials and environmental safety studies of GM mustard lines vs. their non-transgenic comparators have provided evidence that the GE mustard hybrid DMH-11 and its parental lines are safe for cultivation and for food and feed use.” Comparing the transgenic line to non-transgenic counterparts, the release indicated that there was no specific threat to bees identified. However, the release also notes that “Few representations have been received on the environmental release of GE mustard hybrid DMH-11, however, the issue of environmental release of GM Mustard is under adjudication before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.” Source.
Coriander seeds from Russia surge: February 6: According to India's official trade figures, imports of coriander seed from Russia grew dramatically by 1,313% year-on-year in the first eight months of the current fiscal year, amounting to just over 23,000 tonnes. In terms of value, the import of the spice from Russia surged by 1,272% between April and November, reaching $18.64 million compared to a relatively modest $1.36 million during the same period the previous year. Although India's overall import volume of coriander seeds increased by nearly 250% year-on-year to 26,143 tonnes between April and November, imports from Russia rose at a disproportionately higher rate. As a result, Russia accounted for 88% of India's coriander seed imports during the period in question. Source.
Scientists testing herbicide-resistant upland rice mutant line: February 3: Scientists at the ICAR-National Rice Research Institute are carrying out trials of a mutant line of herbicide-resistant rice. Capitalizing on a mutation in the herbicide-tolerant Acetohydroxy Acid Synthase (AHAS) gene, which which tolerates the herbicide Imazethapyr, researchers introgressed the gene in four popular rice varieties; namely, Sahbhagidhan, Naveen, SwarnaSub1 and Pooja and are currently under national testing. Source.
Budget lacking desired seed R&D support: February 2: The fiscal budget for 2023-2024, which was presented to Parliament earlier this month, did not include support to enhance research in seeds and technology. The sought R&D support, advocated for by the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII), included “representation for restoration of the 200 per cent income tax deduction of the research expenditure of seed industry.” According to a statement by FSII, “research investments by the private industry need to be stepped up in order to face the challenges of climate change, natural resource depletion, newly emerging pests and diseases and stagnant yields.” Nonetheless, the budget did include provisions for project on extra long staple (ELS) cotton, which was viewed by FSII as “a step in the right direction.” Other relevent projects included in the budget and lauded by FSII include a project with ICAR to supply disease-free and high-quality horticultural planting material and converting the ICAR-Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR) into a global millet hub. Source and here.
Full quote from Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) Director General Ram Kaundinya:
“The Union Budget 2023-24, presented by the Hon’ble Finance Minister today, has many positive announcements for agriculture in general. As far as the seed industry is concerned there are three items in the budget.
The project on ELS Cotton is a step in the right direction. We are currently producing only 25% of our requirement of 2m bales and the balance is being imported. We believe that a large level of research investment is needed as a part of this project in which the private sector and ICAR can work together and develop high yielding hybrids with ELS and other fibre characteristics. Germplasm plays a key role in this, and both the sectors should come forward to share germplasm in this project. Farmers will grow more of ELS Cotton if they find it high yielding and profitable.
An allocation of Rs. 2,200 cr towards supplying disease free and high-quality horticultural planting material is a very good project. Fruits and Vegetables demand is galloping, and our supplies have to keep pace. Investments are required in enhancing research and high-quality production systems in both fruits and vegetables. Under this project if specific crops are identified and targeted for improvement the seed industry will be very happy to collaborate with ICAR and the Govt on this.
IIMR to be converted into a global Millet Hub is a very good idea. Private sector seed industry is already involved in a big way with Millet breeding, seed production and promotion among farmers.
However, we are disappointed that there has been no announcement of support to enhance research in seeds and technology. We represented for restoration of the 200% income tax deduction of the research expenditure of seed industry. In order to face the challenges of climate change, natural resource depletion, newly emerging pests and diseases and stagnant yields research investments have to be stepped up by the private industry. We were expecting some incentivization of such investments which did not happen.
The budget announced development of Digital Public Goods for delivering several services to the farmers, setting up of an Agri Accelerator fund and a micro irrigation project in Karnataka apart from targeting Rs. 20 lakh crores of agri credit. These all are very positive measures to help agriculture and the farmers.”
Cabinet to set up Multi-State Cooperative Societies: January 11: The government has announced a decision by the Union Cabinet to establish and promote a national level multi-state seed cooperative society based on the Multi State Cooperative Societies (MSCS) Act, 2002. The body, it was reported in a press release, “will act as an apex organization for production, procurement, processing, branding, labelling, packaging, storage, marketing and distribution of quality seeds; strategic research & development; and to develop a system for preservation and promotion of indigenous natural seeds”. It will operate through various cooperative societies across India, receiving support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) and National Seed Corporation (NSC). According to the release, the proposed society will help to increase the seed replacement rate, varietal replacement rate, and ensure “the role of farmers in quality seed cultivation and seed variety trials, production and distribution of certified seeds with a single brand name, by utilizing the network of all levels of cooperatives.” Source.
Bt brinjal trials sought in Karnataka: January 4: Maharashtra-based Beejsheetal Research Private Limited has filed an application seeking to conduct biosafety trials of genetically modified (Bt) brinjal seeds in Karnataka. The move follows an earlier nod by the Union Environment Ministry in 2020, and clearance by the MoEF’s Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) to conduct biosafety research trials. The trials of two pest-resistant varieties of seeds – Janak and BSS-793 – would be at the University of Horticulture, Bagalkot. The seeds employ technology developed by the National Institute for Plant Biotechnology, specifically Event 142 (Cry1Fa1 gene). India is reported to have 3,951 varieties of brinjal, while Karnataka is estimated to have 150 varieties. Source.
India issues SOPs for genome edited plants
Following the easing of regulations on SDN-1 and SDN-2 genome-edited plants which are free of exogenous DNA by India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in March 2022, the country’s Ministry of Science and Technology has issued a memorandum dated October 4, 2022, which specifies Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to carry out research on genome-edited plans under SDN-1 and SDN-2 categories. The SOPs are provided with the aim of facilitating regulatory review of research and development of genome-edited plants and provide a regulatory road map, and requirements for research and development to meet the threshold for exemption under the SDN-1 or SDN-2 categories.
IRRI and Assam extend rural rice collaboration: August 24: An Assam government body, the Assam Rural Infrastructure and Agricultural Services (ARIAS) Society, and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) have inked an extension of collaboration to transform the rice-based agrifood systems in the Indian state as part of a World Bank funded, Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project (APART). Source.
Rice dwarf disease narrowed: August 23: Researchers say they have narrowed down the cause of a “mystery disease” causing the ‘dwarfing’ of rice plants in Punjab and Haryana to be either grassy stunt virus or phytoplasma bacteria Source
Seed certification body rejects 3,000 applications on uniqueness ground: August 22: The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Right Authority (PPVFRA) conducting field testing and assessments of more than 11,000 crop seed varieties has reportedly rejected 3,000 applications that failed to meet criteria for uniqueness. Tested seeds include varieties of cereals, cotton, vegetables, oilseeds, flowers, spices and legume crops. The PPVFRA has granted certification for more than 5,000 plant varieties since its inception in 2009, including about 4,000 belonging to public and private institutions and another 1,033 varieties registered by farmers or farmer groups. .Source.
‘Speed breeding’ extension in UP: August 16: Delegates representing the national agricultural research and extension system (NARES) recently received training in speed breeding for rice. The training took place at the International Rice Research Institute South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC) in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. Source.
CIMMYT makes available new South Asian maize hybrids: August 16: The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) is now accepting applications for licenses to utilize maize hybrids developed in its South Asian Tropical Breeding Program for rainfed tropics of South Asia and similar agro-ecologies. Source.
New optical sorter facilities launched in Bengaluru: August 9: Bühler India inaugurated its new state-of-the-art color sorter manufacturing facility in Bühler Bengaluru. The investment, which supports the company’s “Make in India” initiative will bring to customers in the region, world-class products validated by Bühler SORTEX experts in the United Kingdom. Source.
ICRISAT welcomes new assis DG: August 8: The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has welcomed Mr Sanjay Agarwal as its new Assistant Director General. Mr. Sanjay joins from the Indian Administrative Service, where he had been serving as Chair of the Government of India’s Committee on Minimum Support Price. He has served as Secretary in the Department of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare and was also an ex-officio member of the ICRISAT Governing Board from 2018 to 2022. Source.
UP to increase oilseed planting: August 5: The government of Uttar Pradesh has announced plans to increase land planted with oilseeds to be from 2.2 million hectares currently to 2.7 million ha and thus achieve a target of yielding 100 lakh tonnes of additional oilseeds by 2030-31.Source.
ICRISAT releases two superior pearl millet varieties: August 5: The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has released two varieties of pearl millet with superior forage yields to address the anticipated growing demand for fodder. The varieties are the product of collaborative breeding efforts between ICRISAT and Telangana State Agricultural University in Hyderabad, India Source.
Concerns of faltering rice output: August 3: The area planted with rice in India has reportedly declined 13% this season, which is being linked to lack of rainfall in key areas, including West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, which means the planted area is the smallest in three years for the world’s leading rice exporter. Source.
Seed lab services in Aurangabad: Gubba Cold Storage launched R&D services through its Gubba Seed Quality Lab in Aurangabad on 29 July with an event supported by Maha Seedsmen Association & Seed Industries Association of Maharashtra. Source
Genome edited rice variety release eyed for 2026: July 21: A gene-edited, drought-resistant variety could be released by 2026, India agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, citing sanctions given to Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Delhi by the environment ministry and Department of Biotechnology (DBT) for field evaluations planned in the 2024 kharif season, to be carried out with the approval of institutional biosafety committee. Source.
Pink bollworm threatens cotton harvest: July 19: Early cotton in Punjab and Haryana has reportedly become susceptible to pink bollworm potentially reducing the yield by 30 to 90%. For late sown varieties, it was still too early for them to become susceptible to the pest according to Bhagirath Choudhary, Founder Director of the South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC). Source
Punjab excluded from committee to take MSP: July 19: Representatives from Punjab were unexpectedly excluded from a central Government committee on agricultural issues, causing uproar amongst Punjab's agricultural leaders. The committee is tasked with improving the effectiveness of the Minimum Support Price, and includes representatives from Karnataka, Odisha, Sikkim and Andhra Pradesh. Source
Area of rice cultivation down no cause for alarm: July 19: Despite overall crop coverage climbing this year, the area under cultivation of rice is 17.4% less than last year. Rice is India's main food crop, and the country is the leading global rice exporter with more than 40% market share. However, a shortage of rainfall in the key rice-growing areas of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar has led to fewer rice crops being transplanted in those areas. So far, there is no cause for concern as the country has more than adequate stocks. More favorable weather has been predicted shortly for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and the shortfall can be recouped during the second planting season later in the year. Source
Farmer income doubled for certain crops: July 18:Farmer income in fiscal year 2021-22 had doubled when compared to FY2018-2019 for certain crops in some states, a study shows. The study, published by SBI, “contains granular data of various crops from agri-intensive branches, and analyzes the change in incomes of farmers over the last five years.” Source.
Horticulture production grew by 2pc: July 15: India’s production of horticultural crops, including fruits, vegetables, spices, medicinal plants and plantation crops in the cropping year beginning July 2021 and ending in June 2022, grew by around 2% to 341 million tonnes (mt) against 334 mt reported in the previous cropping year. Production of horticultural crops continues to be higher than that for foodgrains production. As per foodgrain production estimates released in May, India’s yield of rice, wheat and pulses in 2021-22 cropping year was estimated at a record 314.51 mt. Source.
Kharif planting and monsoon trends: July 16: Farmers have planted kharif season crops on some 59.2 million hectares since June. This is compared to about 59.1 million hectares the previous year. While overall planting area increased, rice was the exception, planted on 12.8 million hectares, a 17.4 per cent decrease from 15.5.million ha the corresponding period last year. Source: and here too.
US-Israel-UAE backed food parks in India: July 15: At the I2U2 summit, which kicked off on July 14, PM Narendra Modi, Israel PM Yair Lapid, UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and US President Joe Biden jointly announced two major projects related to food security and clean energy, including a 300 MW hybrid renewable energy project in Gujarat and a $2 billion investment by UAE for developing integrated food parks in India. According to a joint statement, the “US Trade and Development Agency funded a feasibility study for the $330 million USD project. UAE-based companies are exploring opportunities to serve as critical knowledge and investment partner.” Source.
Private tenders granted for opium production: July 13: Bajaj Healthcare Limited (BHL) has been granted two tenders from the Government of India to manufacture Concentrated Poppy Straw (CPS) and Alkaloids/Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) from unlanced poppy capsules along with straw through CPS-Reg and Opium Gum. Both tenders will be carried out at the company's API manufacturing facility in Savli, Gujarat, India. Source as well as here and here.
Punjab to shift away from paddy, wheat cultivation: June 18: According to a crop diversification scheme revealed by Gurvinder Singh, director, agriculture department, the state government plans to offer incentives to farmers to switch from rice and wheat to alternative crops such as oilseeds and pulses, aiming to convert about 10% of wheat area, and about 0.1-0.2 MH paddy Source.
Seed distribution via blockchain in Jharkhand: May 30: The Directorate of Agriculture is distributing seeds of various crops to farmers through a blockchain based seed traceability platform. A total of 101,065 farmers were registered to receive seeds, in addition to 123 Farmer Producer Groups. Recipients receive a One Time Password on their registered mobile numbers, and the seeds are tracked via blockchain-powered database, which maps each farmer and their benefits. Jharkhand is the first State in India to use the block chain system for such purposes. Seed demand through to May was reported at 38,640 quintal seeds of paddy, arrhar, ragi, groundnut, maize, urad and moong, and seed distributed in the Kharif season was registered an increase of 75 per cent. Source.
Indian seed market to double in next five years: May 28: The Indian market for vegetable seeds has much room for growth and is expected to nearly double in the next five years, with the CAGR is expected to grow to 10 percent from the current 8 percent in 2021 between the years 2019 to 2024, notes G C Shivakumar, General Manager, East-West Seed India, Bangladesh & Nepal in an interview about market growth and potential. Source.
Wheat, onion seed exports prohibited: May 14: Citing food security reasons, the Indian Government has halted export of wheat, as well as onion seeds, with immediate effect. The move follows a sudden spike in the global prices of wheat, which is related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and follows similar decisions in Russia, Kazakhstan, Argentina, Bulgaria, Turkey and Hungary, which have all taken measures to restrict the export of wheat. Export will be allowed on a Government to Government (G2G) basis “only after securing the necessary permissions” The export of onion seeds was also categorized by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry as “prohibited” category. Source.
Bayer to introduce new veg hybrids in India: May 11: Head, vegetables (research and development) at Bayer Crop Science, Johannes D Rossouw, revealed that the multinational firm is planning to introduce hybrid varieties of high-yielding and disease-resistant vegetable seeds into the India market soon, including of sweet corn, cabbage, cucumber, watermelon, and onion varieties. The company in the past few years has has released hybrid varieties of tomato, pepper, okra and gourd in India and is currently working on developing new genetics, which it wants to bring into the Indian market through. Source.
Illegal HtBt cotton seed sales hit industry hard: May 8: Ram Kaundinya, Director General of Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) notes that illegal HtBt cotton seeds are being produced by operators mostly in Gujarat, and sold in Maharashtra, Gujarat, parts of Telangana and Andhra. Their circulation has several implications, including impacts the business of the law abiding companies, a loss of government revenue, losses to farmers and the environment. Source.
Four booked, licenses revoked in spurious seed supply case: May 5: Police in Rajpura have booked three dealers and a Hyderabad-based private seed company manager based for allegedly supplying spurious sunflower seeds to farmers in Punjab. Source.
Crop yields, ag labor capacity to fall: May 4: Highlighting the effects of a recent heat wave and pointing to warnings in the United Nations Inter- Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) latest ssessment report, an article in India’s Business Standard warned that, crop yields in India would decline, while labour capacity in agriculture would fall. Source here.
Centralized seed tracing mooted for India: April 11: The Government of India in a March 30 meeting with industry stakeholders proposed plans for a Centralized Seed Traceability and Bar Coding system. Following that meeting, and at the request of India’s Joint Secretary- Seeds, the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) in an April 11 Letter (no. FSII/2022-23/03) provided some suggestions on the proposal. Although the system as envisaged can provide immediate information on a seed’s provenance -- including seed testing laboratory details, processing plant code, seed producer code, and other mandatory information as per the Environmental Protection Act – FSII members raised a number of issues, among them:
1) Breach of secret, confidential information (which might be overcome by encrypting the grower’s name and location so they are invisible to consumers)
2) B2B bulk business transactions would be discouraged if barcodes provide confidential information of one company to other companies.
3) Sorting out the details of each production area, country, and farmer in the Child Lots of vegetable seed Blend Lots -- in which the same variety of a particular crop is produced across many regions and several countries at different times -- is problematic
4) If barcodes demand treatment details, organic seeds will be a problem as they are not treated
5) Barcode printing machines typically have an eight-line maximum, thus making it a challenge to accommodate all requisite information
6) The rather short time frame in which information must be uploaded to government servers may slow the process. Seasons are narrow, and, if the surge in uploads overloads servers, fatal delays will ensue before seeds reach the market
Members also wished to know who will be responsible in case data security in government servers is breached, and suggested traceability of imported seeds end at the ports where they land in India.
It was recommended a workshop with domain, digital, and policy experts be organized, because, while in principle FSII welcomes seed traceability barcoding to control spurious seed sales, and offers to work with the ministries in support of best practices, and to weed out
fringe elements, extensive deliberation is necessary before a prototype model is developed. Such a workshop might also alleviate industry fears of confidential information and intellectual property infringement.
APSA with its members and stakeholders in India and internationally will be following up on this story.
India Greenlights SDN1 and SDN2 Modified Organisms: March 30: India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change CS-III (Biosafety Division) is now exempting organisms modified using two types of Site-Directed Nuclease technology (SDN1 and SDN2) from
application of Rules 7 and 11 of the country’s Rules for the Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms/Genetically Engineered Organisms 1989. Application of the rules has hampered development and commercialization ofgene-edited organisms – effectively prohibiting most -- in India.
With the rule change, organisms modified without introducing exogenous material (or recombinant DNA) will not be treated as new plant varieties, and will not fall under the scope of GMO legislation. Basically, they will not be considered GM anymore.
There are three categories of gene-editing: SDN1, SDN2 and SDN3. SDN1 and SDN2 involve knocking off or over-expressing genome traits without inserting outside gene material. SDN3, on the other hand, covers transgenic organisms (those with recombinant DNA), and those remain
subject to strict controls.
Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) Executive Director Shivendra Bajaj in a note to APSA commented that the move will likely add to polarization in the debate on technologies such as CRISPR-Cas9, as genetic modifications without recombinant DNA are now subject to a
more lenient regulatory process than those considered genetically engineered products.
Site-Directed Nuclease (SDN) technology targets sites on the genome for editing, and uses templates to rebuild them, in order to, for example, remove undesirable traits or enhance nutritional value. It can also modify existing characteristics in response to consumer needs (such as enhanced shelf-life and improved taste or texture in tomatoes), producing varieties that are more sustainable, better for the environment and have higher yields.
With this announcement, non-transgenic genetic modifications are removed from the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (or GEAC) purview.
GEAC is the final technical body certifying GM products as safe for commercial release. Read more here.
India logs record wheat export: April 5: In the fiscal year ending March, India exported a record 7.85 million tonnes of wheat, which represents a more than three-fold increase from the 2.1 million tonnes it exported in the previous year. The wheat shipments, which included cargoes sold to Bangladesh by land, were traded as more uncertainty came on international grains trade due to ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, coinciding with gas prices doubling. “As war raged across the Black Sea region, global wheat prices have surged, and supplies from both Russia and Ukraine, which together account for about 29% of global wheat exports, have dropped substantially.. . . “India's new season wheat harvest is underway, and this year's production is pegged at a record 111.32 million tonnes” Read original source story here.
EWS India wins brand award: April 22: Congratulations to East-West Seed India, which won "The Emerging Brand of the Year 2021 - Agro" in the MSME category, which was awarded by Hon'ble Minister of State - MSME Shri Pratap Chandra Sarangi. See original EWS tweet here.
‘Super App’ for farmers: March 29: The Economic Times reports that the Government of India, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, is planning to launch a “super app” for farmers, which will consolidate multiple digital entities and existing mobile applications geared towards farmers. The app will help farmers in accessing information about the latest research and development, weather and market updates, available services, government schemes and advisories for different agro-climatic zones under one umbrella. Full story here.
Major boost to hemp industry: March 16: Acceptance of cannabis is slowly gaining ground, as more states allow cannabis cultivation for limited purposes. In November 2021, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) issued a notification permitting hemp seed, oil, and flour to be sold as food, though cultivation must still comply with the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS), which excludes cannabis seeds and leaves from the definition of cannabis. (Leaves are already used in medical preparations) The notification limits moisture, fat, free fatty acid, THC and cannabidiol (CBD) content in hemp products and allows no nutrient or health claims about CBD. Himachal Pradesh recently approved an integrated drug prevention policy, effectively clearing the way for cannabis cultivation for medical, scientific and industrial purposes. The central government is also expected to encourage research and trials of cultivars of cannabis with low THC content, and follow cautious, evidence-based approaches towards cannabis cultivation for industrial and horticultural purposes. Hemp was already popular in India’s health food sector, and now the legality of such products is no longer in doubt. Cannabis is highly regulated: state governments license cultivation for scientific and medical purposes, and permit cultivation for industry and horticulture by general or special order. As demand for such is increasing, the central government is expected to encourage research and trials of low THC cannabis. See original story here
India looks to Canada and Israel to boost fertilizer imports: March 16: India is boosting fertiliser imports from nations including Canada and Israel after the disruption of shipments caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. India is a leading importer of fertilisers for its agriculture sector, which employs about 60% of the country's workforce and accounts for 15% of the nation’s economy. "This time we have made advance preparations for kharif season. We need about 30 million tonnes of fertilisers and arrangements are in place," remarked Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Mansukh Mandaviya. India depends on imports for its entire annual consumption of 4 million to 5 million tonnes of potash, a third of which comes from Belarus and Russia. India will buy 1.2 million t from Canada, 600,000 t from Israel and 300,000 from Jordan.
A three-year fertilizer import deal with Russia, however, is in the works and may yet be signed. Prices struck in deals with Belarus and Russia are the benchmark India uses for other countries. For Canada and Israel, potash purchases are set at $590 t delivered. India also relies on Russia and Belarus for complex fertilizers providing more than one nutrient: these will be replaced by Saudi Arabia and Morocco. See original story here
APSA Executive Director in skill development talk: 30 March: APSA Executive Director Dr Kanokwan Chodchoey spoke at the 3rd Annual conference of 5F Farming on ‘Realigning Indian Agriculture for a Sustainable Future’, held March 10-12 in Bhubaneswar-Odisha, India, organized by the non-profit Foundation for Advanced Training in Plant Breeding (ATPBR), hosted by the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT), with Odisha University of Agriculture (OUAT), the Technology and Institute of Life Sciences (ILS) and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) partnering. Dr Kanokwan spoke during a panel discussion on Skill Development & Entrepreneurship/Start-up in Agriculture.
Unauthorized potato seed crackdown in Punjab: February 26: Officials in the city of Jalandhar will look to crackdown on the illegal sale of potato seeds, in response to the filing of First Information Reports alleging the unauthorised sale of potato seeds from other states.Joint teams of civil administration, Agriculture Department and Horticulture Department will carry out “extensive checking drive at cold storages in the district”. More details here.
Seed firms to assess, address veg seed sector labor standards: February 24: BASF, Syngenta, and Arisa joined are working together as part of a multi-stakeholder collaboration called Wage Improvements in Seed Hybrids (WISH), as part of efforts to address child labor issues and strive for minimum wage compliance in the vegetable seed sector in India. Cofounded with a grant from the Dutch Enterprise Agency (RVO), the four-year project will be carried out in two phases: In the first phase, the companies will actively collect data to effectively assess the situation with respect to incurences of minimum wages, child labor and other labor violations. After that, WISH plans to “implement strategies that address the root causes of gaps in the minimum wages and child labor regulations in the vegetable seeds sector.” See press release here:
Party president promotes planting of GM eggplant in protest: On February 17, the president of the Swatantra Bharat Party, Anil Jaysing Ghanwat, reportedly led a group of about 500 farmers to plant unapproved, genetically modified (GM) brinjal or eggplant. The HT Bt plants developed to be “fruit & shoot borer-resistant”, were transplanted on a small farm in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district, while Bt brinjal seeds were also distributed to farmers from about 25 districts of Maharashtra. The planting was proclaimed to be part of a ‘civil disobedience movement’ to advocate for farmers choice in protest to India’s strict biosafety and environmental laws. Bahale, and 15 other farmers were cited for violating the Environment Protection Act, the Seed Act and the Indian Penal Code. More details here.
Bayer to apply for cultivation of next-generation GM cotton seeds: February 10: Bayer Crop Sciences has applied to cultivate its next generation Bollgard II Roundup Ready Flex (RRF) cotton seeds in India. Plans to launch the next generation GM variety in India, which was developed by Monsanto, were previously halted in late 2016, Monsanto following a row over pricing and intellectual property rights concerns, which also prompted other global agriculture corporations into scale back investments in the seed sector. See full details here.
India’s potential to tap into blooming floriculture market: February 4: “Increasingly, Indian farmers are exporting flowers, especially roses that meet international standards,” writes Dr Shivendra Bajaj of the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) in an article that highlights the potential for India to gain more share of the global floriculture market, which was valued at US$ 49 billion in 2020, and expected to reach $70 billion by 2026. Read full article on The Dispatch here.
Pulses and oilseed crops emphasized in Zaid cropping: January 28: The Government of India has announced its target to increase the area under inter-season, or “Zaid crops” (excluding paddy), which are those cultivated in between the rabi (cool season) and Kharif (rainy or summer) seasons. The announced is for 5.27 million hectares. Of this, 2.1 million ha will be allocated to pulses, 1.37mn ha to oilseeds, and 1.7mn ha to coarse cereals. As for paddy, India reportedly cultivated this staple on 4mn ha this past summer season , and is expected to cultivate rice on between 3 to 4mn ha this coming summer. Summer rice is primarily grown in the states of West Bengal, Telangana, Karnataka, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, and Bihar. Read more here:
Centre Intends to Increase Area under Summer Crops by 29% (krishijagran.com)
India's Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill 2021: 27 January: APSA on behalf of its international members has provided industry feedback on India's proposed Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill 2021. The letter, which was submitted on January 30 was compiled by APSA's Standing Committee on IPR and Biodiversity, based on input from several of its members on behalf of their respective organizations, including the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII), National Seed Association of India, CropLife Asia and Plantum.
The bill fast-tracks research, patent applications and transfer of Indian biological resource research while opening the way to more foreign investment. It represents a sea-change in approach. APSA's IPR and Biodiversity Committee is thus aligning key points with FSII. Bill highlights include:
1) An Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) fee (prior to receiving Intellectual Property Rights) for using biological resources is implemented nationally, by the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA); state-wide, by State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs); and locally by Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs). From this, however, Value
Added Products (VAPs) on the Normally Traded as Commodities List
(NTAC) are exempt
2) New restrictions covering 'benefit claimers'
3) ‘Biological resources’ now comprising ‘derivatives’
4) Re-defining ‘India’
5) New compliance covering patents
6) Decriminalizing some categories
7) Encouraging Indian traditional medicine while reducing pressure on
wild medicinal plants through cultivation
Other proposals encompass major regulatory and administrative change.
More details about bill, including the seed industry’s input as outlined in letters from APSA and FSII will be outlined in the regional regulatory affairs review section in Asian Seed Magzine, Volume 28, Quarter 1 issue out in March 2022. Meanwhile, for a detailed account on the proposed amendments, see here.
ACSEN HyVeg Managing Director Awarded: 19 January: AsiaOne Magazine chose Dr Arvind Kapur for India's Greatest Brands & Leaders 2020-21 award. ACSEN HyVeg (P) Ltd. is a decade-old, Coimbatore-based, end-to-end vegetable seed and agriculture company offering 202 Hybrids, 75 Varieties and 35 Crops. The company has its own research and viable technology facilities. The news was tweeted by Ascen HyVeg on January 10 here, who said “We are honoured by this recognition and filled with greater vigour to fulfil our mission.” Dr Kapur also serves as the Chair of APSA’s Standing Committee of Intellectual Property Rights and Biodiversity. See also coverage of the accolade in this video on Youtube here.
Punjab CM assures compensation for paddy, protest farmers: December 28: Following what was described as “marathon discussions” between a delegation from the Punjab-based farmers organization, Kisan Majdoor Sangharsh Committee and the Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, the latter has reportedly agreed to extend relief to Basmati rice growers whose crops were damaged by hail storms this past Kharif (summer/rainy) season. The compensation amount quoted in media was INR 17000 ($228) per acre. Aside from that, negotiations spanned several other important issues, extending to demands from the farmers group for the state to waive debts, provide jobs, compensation, land rights and leniency to farmers, including in relation to the yearlong “agitation” or protests widely reported on. See full news here.
Odisha govt dishes out cyclone compensation to farmers: December 28: The Odisha government on December 27 announced a ₹507-crore ($5.7 billion) compensation scheme for farmers whose crops were damaged or destroyed by “unseasonal rain” that was brought with Cyclone Jawad on December 4 and 5. Short-term loans would be extended to medium-term ones and affected horticulture farmers would be paid up to INR 18,000 per hectare, while farmers would be given an input subsidy of between INR 1,000 and 2,000. Moreover, some 12,000 quintals (1,200 tonnes) of certified high quality seeds will be supplied to farmers in 12 affected districts. See original story here.
Cyclone Jawad, which was downgraded to a depression by the time it struck the coast of Odisha, inflicted “enormous damage to standing crops that were ready for harvest in several regions," according to one senior officer quoted. Affected districts were reported to be Ganjam, Gajapati, Jagatsinghpur, Khordha, Puri, Bhadrak, Balasore, Jajpur, Kendrapara, and Cuttack. The damage follows more “unseasonal rain” that had agitated paddy farms in the first week of November. In the 2021 Kharif season, paddy was grown on approximately 3.5 million hectares of land in Odisha. The bad weather has not only affected paddy farmers, but growers of chilli peppers and other vegetables. See full story here.
India relaxes restrictive conditions that impeded seed imports: December 17: APSA has been informed through the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSIII) that the Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine & Storage (DPPQ&S) of India’s Department of Agriculture, Co-operation and Farmers' Welfare (DA&FW), has agreed to relax restrictive import conditions that have impeded inbound (re-export) seed shipments for the past several months. Issues arose after the Plant Protection Advisor (PPA) circulated an Office Memorandum (OM) on September 16, which was interpreted by Customs officials to start requiring for Additional Declarations to be endorsed on all original phytosanitary certificates issued in seed consignments’ country of origin. Citing strict interpretation of Chapter-III Clause 10(2) of the 2003 Plant Quarantine Order, enforcement by Customs of said conditions specifically affected shipments of seeds that had been re-exported through two or more countries, which resulted in many consignments being held up at Indian ports of entry. This prompted several concerned seed industry bodies – including the FSII (October 1), APSA (October 7) National Seed Association of India (October 8) and the International Seed Federation (November 5) – to advocate on behalf of the seed industry, reiterating that such strict interpretation of the OM was not only inconsistent with the status quo, but problematic and impractical due to the international nature of the seed trade. Following a series of industry-government consultations, the PPA on December 17 issued a letter, agreeing to relax said conditions for a two-year period, while directing the DPPQ&S to “further study the case of seed imports (re-export) in light of various existing ISPM’s (ISPM38, ISPM12, etc) and also on how other countries deal with the same and then if necessary proposed for announcement to PQ order, 2003 so that the issue is resolved suitably and as per the international standards/guidelines set out by IPPC.” APSA will continue to work with the FSII, NSAI and ISF to monitor developments concerning this OM and all other phytosanitary measures that impact the trade of quality seeds to and from India.
Haryana facing urea shortage: December 23: A cropping crisis stemming from a shortage of urea is brewing in the state of Haryana. With the Rabi (cool season) sowing period set to end in a month, farmers are reportedly having to queue up to obtain needed urea, despite assurances from the state agriculture minister that there are ample stocks of the nitrogen-containing farm input. See full story here.
5mn ha of crops lost to ‘climate crisis: December 22: Some five million hectares of Indian crops have been damaged or destroyed in the first 11 months of 2021, and a total of 36 million hectares have been affected by “hydro-meteorological calamities” since 2016. According to a report, extreme weather events causing havoc for farmers this past year include Cyclone Tauktae and Cyclone Yaas, bringing destruction to farms in Odisha, West Bengal and Karnataka. Then in July, floods inundated crops in Maharashtra, followed in August by costly rain deficits, contrasted with excess rains in September and October,when Kerela farmers were particularly impacted. November saw “unprecedented rainfall” impacting cropping in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka. See full story here.
HP cropping delayed by dry spell: December 20: Crop sowing in the lower Kangra district in the state of Himachal Pradesh has been delayed by a prolonged period of no rain, which has caused hesitation to sow Rabi crops, including wheat, maize and paddy, as well as citrus crops such as like orange, kinnow and galgal. Some farmers, who had reportedly sowed wheat crops in late November have started incurring losses. According to quoted figures, farmers cultivate wheat crops on 9,850 hectares, maize in 4,670 ha, and paddy on 5,892 ha. See full story here.
India releases SOP for ag use of drones: December 15: IHS Markit Agribusiness Expert reports that the Indian government has released a standard operating procedure (SOP) involving the use of drones for the application of pesticides in agriculture, forestry and non-cropped areas. A "conditional exemption" for use of the technology has been cleared by the country's Ministry of Civil Aviation, and the Indian aviation watchdog, Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). While the SOP covers aspects such as drone registration, flying permission, crowded area restrictions, insurance and emergency handling plans, among others, it also lays down several statutory provisions governing drone-based spraying. The provisions mandate drone operators to use only approved insecticides and formulations at authorised concentration and height, adding that the area of application must be marked by the operators. Furthermore, it states that aerial operations must be notified to the public at least 24 hours in advance through written submissions to competent local authorities. Read full story on IHS Markit here.
Rabi sowing update: December 10: According to figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, the total area sown during the ongoing Rabi season as of December 3 was at around 25.40 lakh or 2.54 million hectares, which includes 18.92 lakh or 1.89 million ha increase in sowing of oilseeds crops, and 7.24 lakh or 724,000 ha increase of wheat sowing. Other major rabi crops sown include barley, peas, gram and mustard. This year’s Rabi wheat sowing as of November 19 represented a 9.6% year-on-year increase to 8.8 million hectares, which represents almost half of the total area sown during this season. Among States with highest areas sown were Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, followed by Bihar, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Paddy was sown on about 9.74 lakh ha, about 36,000 ha more than the previous year. Read full report here. According to a November 26 sowing report, the total area sown during the current Rabi cropping period was 346.13 lakh or 34.6 million hectares, which was about half of the normal rabi area of 625.14 lakh or 62.5mn hectares.
Gujarat groundnut varieties in demand in Tamil Nadu: November 29: There have been reports of “aggressive buying” by Tamil Nadu based traders of two peanut varieties: Gujarat Junagadh Groundnut-9 (GJG-9) and Kadiri-66 (K9). The demand in southern India has motivated farmers in Jamnagar to grow more of these two new varieties, which are reportedly not widely cultivated in Gujarat. Farmers are reportedly selling peanuts in the open market, where they are fetching prices higher than the government fixed Minimum Support Price of INR 5,550 per quintal. See full story here.
Palm seeds planted to protect biodiversity: November 29: Tens of thousands of palmyra seeds have been planted on islands off the coast of Tamil Nadu as part of efforts to mitigate sea erosion and thus protect local biodiversity. The latest planting efforts have focused on the Van Island is located on the southern border of the Gulf of Mannar, as well as Kasuwari Island and Nallathanni Islands in Thoothukudi. , which have all been threatened by sea erosion. See full story here.
Expectations soar for mustard output: November 23: Production of mustard, a key oilseed crop cultivated during the Rabi season, is expected to yield an “all-time high” this season as prices for the crop currently are 52 per cent higher than the minimum support price of ₹5,050 per quintal. With such factors, seeds have been in high demand, fetching as much as four times their usual price. Indian farmers in the last 2020-2021 harvest period (June and July) harvested a record 10.1 million tonnes of mustard (July-June), and for this 2021-22 season, the government aims for 12.24 mt from some 7.58 million hectares planted. See full details here.
Carrot seed supply investigation ongoing: November 2: Representatives of several multinational companies have been transparent and cooperative with authorities as part of ongoing investigations into a complaint alleging unfair market and supply practices, lodged a few months back by farmers in Tamil Nadu, a leading carrot-growing state in southern India. The complaint was reportedly petitioned initially in 2019 to the watchdog, Competition Commission of India (CCI), who had recently conducted a multi-city search and seizure operation targeting Indian facilities of several international seed firms that import and supply carrot seeds. See more details here.
Telangana suppliers told not to sell paddy seed to farmers: October 29: The Telangana government has reportedly told seed companies to “not sell paddy seeds to farmers at any cost” for sowing in the ongoing Rabi season. Instead, “seed company dealers were asked to procure and stock adequate quantities of seed for alternative crops like pulses and oilseeds such as groundnut, green gram, black gram, Bengal gram, caster, bajra and sesamum,” reports the Hindustan Times. The indirect order was reportedly based on having sufficient paddy stocks, and lack of demand, nationally.
Consultations to address seed shipments affected by OM: The Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) on October 20 informed its members that the Plant Protection Advisor (PPA) -- of the Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine & Storage, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India – has agreed to consultations with private and public sector seed industry representatives in order to address issues of seed shipments being held or rejected at Indian borders by Customs officials. The issues are linked to the interpretation and enforcement of import requirements mandated in an Office Memorandum (OM) issued by the PPA on September 16. Problems with seed shipments were reported at Indian ports of entry after procedures outlined in the OM started to be enforced by Customs Agents, citing the OM, titled “Illegal Import of fresh fruits and agricultural commodities using third country phytosanitary certificate-reg.”, signed by Plant Protection joint-director, Sr. PS Nain, and which stated that “import of any consignment without fulfilling phytosanitary requirements by the country of origin as stipulated in Plant Quarantine (Regulation of import into India) Order. 2003 is a threat to bio-security of the county”. The OM has been the basis for officials to insist that all required Additional Declarations under Plant Quarantine Order 2003 now be endorsed on the original phytosanitary certificates from the country of origin. Letters to the PPA from several concerned seed industry bodies, including the FSII (October 1), APSA (October 7) and NSAI (October 8) reiterated that these strict interpretations of the OM are not only inconsistent with the status quo, but problematic and impractical due to the international nature of the seed trade, where “production is undertaken in one country, and processing (including lab testing for phytosanitary purposes) is very often conducted in major processing hubs in a different country when customer orders are received,”. Therefore, the APSA letter concludes, applying the OM to seed “will make it impossible to get seed to Indian growers.” According to the FSII, who recently met with the PPA, a “short grace period” for the new rules would be considered to facilitate the import of seeds that are currently stuck. Meanwhile, updates on the consultation process will be provided through APSA’s Standing Committee on International Trade and Quarantine.
Bayer to divest portion of India portfolio: October 20: Bayer CropScience has entered into an agreement with crop solutions company, Crystal Crop Protection Ltd to transfer its India businesses in Cotton, Mustard, Pearl Millet and Grain Sorghum hybrids in India. According to a company statement, which could be viewed here, and is reported on here, “The business acquired by crystal crop protection represents a very small portion of Bayer’s Indian and global business portfolio. Commenting on the acquisition, N K Aggarwal, Chairman, Crystal Crop Protection Limited said, “Staying true to our vision of inspiring growth of Indian farmers, this acquisition is a step forward to provide high performance seeds for sustainable growth of Indian agriculture.” D. Narain, Senior Bayer Representative, South Asia And CEO & MD, Bayer CropScience Limited Said, “While we have divested a small portion our business portfolio, Bayer remains fully committed to the long-term growth of Indian agriculture and will continue to bring next-generation technologies that drive agricultural productivity, enable farmer prosperity and promote sustainable agriculture.”
Compensation for pink bollworm damage: September 26: Punjabi farmers whose crops suffered from bollwarm attacks, have been promised full compensation. Speaking in Bathinda, the new Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi assured that large quantities of pesticides would be supplied directly to farmers. It was reported that ‘2-3 blocks in the region have seen 60 per cent of crops come under attack.’ See news here.
Cropping volatility as intense September monsoon follows August dry spell: Above average monsoon rains in September, following below average precipitation in July and August have spelt much havoc for Indian farmers. On September 26, India Today reported that prices of vegetables in Kolkata had risen sharply as the result of continuous rains causing damage to standing crops. Parwal (pointed gourd) was reportedly fetching INR 70, double its usual price, while bitter gourd was quoted at Rs. 60, up from 40 normally at the at Kidderpore market. Vegetable crops had been inundated in Baruipur, Canning, Bongaon, Basirhat, Arambag and Dankuni. The news follows a Reuters report on September 23 that quotes the Indian Meteorological Department in noting that “After hitting the Kerala coast on June 3, the monsoon had spread to two-thirds of India by mid-June, almost 15 days earlier than expected. It tapered off in the third week of June. Rains in June were 10% above average but 7% below average in July and 24% below average in August. So far in September, monsoon rains are 29% above average.”
Seed supply, cropping challenges in MP: September 24: Madhya Pradesh farmers have struggled to find ample seed supplies for some crops as a drought situation is reportedly prevailing in the Nimar region. Meanwhile, in Indore and adjoining areas, potato and moong farmers are also distraught and distressed, reports the Times of India.
Govt forecasts record summer grains output this year: September 21: Expectations in India are being set high for a record of more than 150 million tonnes of summer-sown grains to be harvested in the crop year to June 2022. Citing a statement from the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, Agriculture.com via Reuters reports that if the forecast were to be realized, it would outdo the 149.56 million tonnes harvested in the previous year. Summer-sown rice output in 2021/22 is estimated to reach a record 107.04 million tonnes, up from 104.41 million tonnes in 2020/21, while Indian farmers are forecast to harvest 21.24 million tonnes of corn, matching the previous year; The output of oilseed, peanuts and soybean, however, are forecast to drop to 23.4 million tonnes, 8.2mn t, and 12.7mn t, from 24mn t, 8.5mn t, and 12.9mn t, respectively. Lentils harvests are predicted to reach 9.45mn t, up from 8.69 mn t, while cotton output is hoped to reach 36.2mn bales (of 170 kg each) from 35.3mn. Finally, cane production is forecast to reach 419.2mn t, which would be up from 399.2 mn t. See report here.
MSPs announced for six rabi crops: September 9: The Indian Cabinet on September 8 announced minimum support price (MSP) approval for six rabi (cool-season sown) crops, which are set to take effect from the marketing season beginning April 1, 2022. The highest percentage increase (8.6%) to mustard and rapeseeds and lowest to wheat (2%) for the marketing season beginning April 1 next year. The Times of India reports that “the highest hike to mustard and rapeseed is . . . in sync with the government’s increasing focus on oilseeds in order to reduce the country’s dependence on imports.” The increase in MSPs, which were also announced for lentils, rice, wheat and barley, are aimed to “to encourage farmers to opt for crop diversification and boost production . . . “ and “. . . also seen as an attempt to send a positive signal to farm unions in Punjab, Haryana and western UP agitating over farms laws interpreted by them as intended to eventually end the MSP regime.” Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar was quoted as assuring that the rate of MSP and procurement of crops at support prices are increasing continuously after the enactment of the farm laws, addressing doubts widely reported that MSP would be phased out.
New Bengal seed gram in AP: Aug 22: A new high-yield and pest resistant variety of Chana (Bengal gram), named Nandyal Bengal Gram 857 (NBeG 857), has been developed by scientists working at the Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS) in Nandyal, Andhra Pradesh. Suited to conditions in South India, the plant is medium height with attractive light brown seeds, is recommended for growing in the Rabi (winter-spring) season, and can be harvested in 95 to 100 days. in Andhra Pradesh NBeG 857 has recorded yields of 3,782 kg per hectare compared to other varieties such as Super Annigeri 1 (2,540 kg/ha), JG 11 (2,300 kg/ha), and Jaki 9218 (1,866 kg/ha). Original story here
Mustard seed update: Aug 12: The price of mustard seed has dropped by more than 1% across India. At the start of the harvest season a 25% reduction in supply year-on-year led to a temporary price increase. However, now that supply has caught up, the price has corrected although a potential reduction in global output may see prices increase again. Original story and table of prices per quintal buy mandi
Natl Seeds Corp meeting underlines quality seed: Aug 6: The importance of producing and distributing affordable quality seed was discussed at a recent meeting of the National Seed Corporation (NSC). Director Agriculture Kashmir, Chowdhary Mohammad Iqbal, stressed that quality seed is crucial for boosting agricultural production and will be one of the top priorities of the ministry. A draft seed policy is under government consideration that will help ensure farmers receive an adequate supply of quality seeds. Original story here
Cotton crop productivity drops: July 30: A report from the Committee on Cotton Production and Consumption (CCPC) shows the yield per hectare of Indian cotton has been in decline in the last few years. Despite an increase in the area under cultivation, yield has fallen below 0.5 tonnes per hectare in four out of the last six years. According to M Ramasami, Chairman-cum-Managing Director of Rasi Seeds (P) Ltd., the local textile industry consumes at least 5.5 million tonnes of cotton with 1.3 million tonnes exported. However, should demand recover after Covid, the Indian textile industry may face a sharp rise in the price of cotton. Scientists have called for the introduction of new seed technology to keep pace with competing nations. Original story here
Covid controls prevail throughout: July 22: Most of India is under some level of lockdown, with specific restrictions on movement and business varying state to state, city to city. Generally speaking, business is permitted at a limited capacity, and movement between areas is tightly controlled. Movement for and trade of essential goods and supplies -- including food and agricultural produce -- are permitted but may be subject to “thorough screening” procedures. Following are trends in various states according to various news sources:
NSAI & FSII reach a consensus on commercialization framework for superior plant varieties: July 9: The National Seed Association of India (NSAI) and Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) have issued a joint statement announcing that they have reached a consensus on trait value and licensing of seed technology that will benefit Indian farmers. The move serves to allay concerns of monopoly or restricted access to the traits by the plant breeders while ensuring breeders receive a reasonable return on investment.
The framework comes after many years of legal wrangling between companies represented by both organizations, and will also lead to clearer processes for regulatory agencies in approving new traits or plant varieties in future. Mr Prabhakar Rao, President, NSAI said, “This framework ensures that interests of all parties including farmers are taken care of and we are happy that the main concerns of the small and medium companies regarding monopoly of trait leading to excessive trait pricing are fully addressed.” Dr M Ramasami, Chairman, Rasi Seeds and Chairman, FSII said, “Illegal use of unapproved technologies is fraught with dangers to the environment, to the legally operating seed industry and eventually to the farmers themselves. This framework will be very beneficial to the Indian farmers who have been waiting for new technologies for more than 10 years.”
Highlights of the commercialization framework are:
More information on the announcement can be found here and here.
TAAS New publications: The Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences (TAAS) -- a “vibrant national ‘Think Tank’ under the visionary leadership of Dr Raj S. Paroda” has published and disseminated two new publications of interest to India and the greater regional seed sector as follows:
Punjab cropping update: July 9: Kharif (summer) crop sowing is well underway in the state of Punjab with 1.9 million hectares sown at the time of going to press. Cotton sowing has been completed in the state's cotton belt comprising Fazilka, Bathinda, Muktsar, Mansa, Sangrur, Barnala, Faridkot and Moga districts. A total of 304,000 hectares of cotton has been sown compared to the state's target of 325,000 hectares, a 7% shortfall. Around 3 million hectares of rice is expected to be cultivated this season, with 537,00 hectares of basmati rice targeted. Original story here
Jute bag shortage for crops as plastic alternative mulled: July 1: A shortage of jute bags, necessary for the packaging of food grain under the Jute Packaging Material (JPM) Act, is causing crop distribution issues throughout the country. West Bengal currently supplies 80% of India's jute bags as most of the country's mills are located in the state. However, much of the supply of raw jute was damaged by cyclone Amphan, which ravaged the state of West Bengal during mid-May. A relaxation of the JPM Act to allow the use of 7.7 million bales of high-density polyethylene/polypropylene (HDPE/PP) bags has already been granted for the Rabi (winter) season. It is feared that plastics may be increasingly used, threatening the livelihoods of nearly 250,000 people in the state employed by jute mills. The Standing Advisory Committee (SAC) on jute, which functions under the Union Textile Ministry, has assured the government that mills will be able to supply 34 million bales to the government after the next crop. Original story here
All about Assam agriculture: June 30: Krishijagram has published an overview of the cropping landscape of Assam State, where mainstay crops cultivated include sugarcane, tea, rice, jute, vegetables and others. According to the article, “To increase productivity, cultivators in these [other regions of India] areas employ more artificial machinery and chemical fertilizers; yet, Assam is a natural center. Assam does not require these items in the same way that these states do.” See full article here.
Maharashtra tomato belt sustains renewed attack: June 29: Tomato crops -- in both greenhouses and open-fields across Maharashtra are suffering from a reneed onslaught of biotic infestations. Multiple viruses, including Cucumber Mosaic Virus (CMV), Groundnut Bud Necrosis Virus (GBNV) and Tomato Chlorosis Virus, had infested crops last June in Pune, Satara, Ahmednagar and Nashik districts. The Indian Institute of Horticultural Research-Bengaluru has cited climate change and shifting cultivation periods as one factor. The problem reportedly returned for the Rabi (cool, dry season) tomato crop. According to media, about 1,000 acres of crop in the Narayangaon belt of Junnar and Pune was affected. Tests conducted lasts year by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute-Regional Station, Pune (IARI-RS, Pune) in the Kolwadi and Alandi areas of Pune detected CMV, GBNV, Tomato Mosaic Virus, Pepper Mottle Virus and Potato Virus Y while tests this past May have detected CMV, Groundnut Necrosis Virus or GBNC, Capsicum Chlorosis Virus, PVX or Potato Virus Y and the Poty virus group. See original story here.
Punjab maize farmers warned to be on lookout for fall armyworm: June 29: Dr Surinder Sandhu, a maize expert at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), has warned farmers to be vigilant against fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda), which has the potential to cause significant crop damage. Especially vulnerable are young crops which would have been recently sown in May and June. Although the pest had been detected in Punjab, farmers are advised not to panic as the pest can be controlled by being vigilant and reacting quickly if it is found. Original story here
ICAR to release 21 biofortified crop varieties: June 28: According to the Ministry of Finance, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) will distribute 21 climate-resilient and bio-fortified special varieties of crops as part of the government's Covid-19 relief measures. Crops include rice, peas, millet, maize, soya bean, quinoa, buckwheat, winged bean, pigeon pea and sorghum. The bio-enhanced and climate-resilient varieties are targeted at fighting malnutrition, while also improving the income of farmers as they are tolerant to disease, insects pests, drought, salinity, and flooding, early maturing and amenable to mechanical harvesting. Original story here
Koraput (Odisha) kharif cropping update: June 28: Sowing is well underway in Koraput district of Odisha state which has experienced steady monsoon rains with an average rainfall of 20mm. The state's Agriculture Department has set a target to cultivate 97,400 hectares of paddy and 1,98,300 hectares of non-paddy crops. Farmers in Upper Kolab irrigation areas will receive water from July to October. Roughly 42,500 hectares will be irrigated in the districts of Jeypore, Kotpad, Borrigumma and Kundura. Original story here
Gujarat sowing update: June 28: According to figures from the Directorate of Agriculture (DAG) in the state of Gujarat, the sowing of Kharif (summer) crop has neem delayed as many districts have experienced less than normal rainfall in June. At the time only 689,000 hectares, or roughly 50%, of the area compared to the same period last year, has been sown. Cotton and groundnut made up the majority of the crop already sown. Original story here
Maharashtra farmers are struggling to get funds: June 28: Farmers in Maharashtra state report that they have yet to receive their loans for Kharif cultivation from several district cooperative banks. Only 66% of the state government’s target of USD 1.8 billion has been released so far with the delay due to the poor financial health of at least six dozen banks. Original story here
GM rubber tree planted to withstand cold winter: June 25: The Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) has developed the world's first genetically modified (GM) rubber plant, specifically tailored to the cool climate of northeastern India. The GM plant contains additional copies of the MnSOD (manganese-containing superoxide dismutase) gene, which helps the plants survive cold winters and droughts, and the Indian Rubber Board is optimistic that GM rubber plants will be successfully cultivated in the region. Original story here
Punjab Ag Uni advises farmers on veg mite pest threat: June 24: Scientists from the Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) have warned farmers in the state to be careful of mite pests that may attack summer vegetables such as cucumber, aubergine, okra, and capsicum. Original story here
ICAR tapping tapioca for biopesticide potential: June 23: The Central Tuber Crops Research Institute of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR-CTCRI), along with the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE), have received a patent for the development of pesticides extracted from the leaves of tapioca, which are usually discarded as waste, that act as biopesticides. CTCRI has also produced bio-fumigant from tapioca leaves. Original story here
Study points to early Iron age paddy cultivation in arid part of Mahrashtra: June 22: Archaeologists from Birbal Sahni Institute of Paleosciences (BSIP), Archaeological Survey of India and Banaras Hindu University have identified extensive cultivation, dominated by rice, some 3,000 year ago during the early Iron Age in the semi-arid regions of Vidarbha in Maharashtra. The researchers studied over a thousand macro-botanical sample remains from Rithi Ranjana, a site about 37km northwest of Nagpur district including cereals — rice, wheat, barley, pulses as well as lentils and wild berries. Radiocarbon dating was able to show that 56% of the crop during that period was rice, and was prevalent in the area until roughly 2,000 years ago according to researchers. Other commonly cultivated crops were pea (19%), green gram (17%), barley and lentils (4% each) and wheat (about 1%). Original story here
State govt says wait for more rain before sowing: June 21: Farmers in Maharashtra have been urged to wait until the first week of July to start Kharif sowing. Due to a change in rain patterns over the last few years, the state's Agriculture Department is concerned that farmers may rush to start sowing after a few spells of rain and utilise the entire stock of seeds and fertilisers. If there is a long dry spell after sowing, their efforts will be wasted, and farmers will incur huge financial losses. Original story here
Himachal Pradesh to cultivate saffron: June 20: Commercial saffron cultivation is being introduced in Himachal Pradesh for the first time. It is hoped that saffron production in the state will not only compete with neighbouring states such as Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory (JKUT), but also make India self-reliant in saffron production. A new state-of-the-art tissue culture facility is being built in Palampur capable of producing 3.5 million high-quality and disease-free corms per year. According to Dr Sanjay Kumar, director of Council Of Scientific And Industrial Research (CSIR) and Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT), nearly 3,000 hectares was under saffron cultivation in JKUT which produces around 8 to 10 tonnes of saffron. As Himachal Pradesh has a similar climate, he remarked it would be possible for saffron production in the state to eventually surpass that of JKUT and help make the country self-sufficient. The current demand for saffron in India is around 100 tonnes and the spice is sold for between USD 35,000 to 40,000 per kilogram, with most of the saffron imported from Iran. Original story here
Ambitious target to increase peanut cultivation: June 19: The Government off India has announced an ambitious objective to increase groundnut (Arachis hypogaea or peanut) production to 14.15 million tonnes by 2025-2026. If achieved, this would would represent an increase of about 40 percent from the current annual cultivation of 10.12 million tonnes. See original story here.
Seed associations urge action against illegal HtBt seeds: June 18: The Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) and the National Seed Association of India (NSAI) has called for action against a recent surge in illegal herbicide-tolerant (HT) Bt cotton. In a statement, the NSAI urged for strong punitive measures against the sellers of illegal seeds. Expressing concern, NSAI President Prabhakar Rao said: "It will not only decimate small cotton seed companies but also threatens the entire legal cotton seed market in India." According to FSII chairman M Ramasami, production of illegal HT cotton jumped from 3.5 million packets in the previous year to around 7 million packets this year, not only harming farmers and seed producers, but also causing loss of tax revenue to the government. Original story here
Nagaland rice outlook adjusted as rains delayed: June 18: The Agriculture Production Commissioner of Nagaland has revised the forecast for rice production in Nagaland, reducing the previous forecast of 551,000 metric tonnes to just 166,000 metric tonnes. This is due to the delayed monsoon causing drought that has affected the lives of almost 70% of the rural population of the state. Original story here
Paddy MSP raised: June 9: The government has raised the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy rice to USD 260 per tonne for the 2021-22 crop year, up from USD 250 per tonne the previous year, as well as raising the MSP of other summer crops, including as pearl millet, which was raised to USD 300 per tonne from USD 286.
Two prominent Indian seedsmen taken by Covid: The APSA Executive Committee and Secretariat would like to express our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family, friends and associates of two outspoken and respected Indian seedsmen -- Buta Singh Kanwal and Kollipara Niranjan Kumar -- who recently passed away due to the effects of Covid-19. Niranjan passed away on 8 May at the age of 47 (read tribute here). Buta Singh, who passed away on April 29, was 68 (see tribute here).
India renews pact with Israel to continue ag development projects: May 24: India and Israel have signed a three-year work program for continued cooperation through “INDO-ISRAEL Agricultural Project Centres of Excellence” and “INDO-ISRAEL Villages of Excellence”. This is the fifth such bilateral project agreement to have been signed by the two governments. According to a govt press release, every year, these COEs produce more than 25 million quality vegetable seedlings, more than 387 thousand quality fruit plants and train more than 120,000 farmers on using the latest horticultural technologies. According to a progress summary, 29 Centres of Excellence (COEs) in 12 States across India have become operational since 2008, and feature “Advanced-Intensive agriculture farms with Israeli Agro-Technology tailored to local conditions … generating knowledge, demonstrating best practices and training farmers”. Of these, five are ‘under progress’ including: a CoE for flower cultivation and seed production at Sondhi, Jhajjar in Haryana (INR 78.7 million); Centre of Excellence for Semi Arid Horticulture, Gignow (Bhiwani), Haryana (INR 82.5mn); CoE for Vegetables at Nurabad, Distt. Morena, Madhya Pradesh (INR 96.9mn); CoE for Citrus at Kuddam, Chhindwara, MP (INR 66.8mn) and the Assam Centre of Excellence for Vegetables (Protected Cultivation) with a budget of INR58.3mn.
Spurious seeds seized in Telangana: May 23: Some 21 quintals (2.1 tonnes) of illegal Bt-3 cotton seeds, reportedly worth Rs 4.2 million (US$57,935), were seized during raids of wholesalers in Asifabad’s Chintala Manepally Mandal. The raiding operation, led by police officers, agriculture and TS Seeds Development Corporation officials was initiated after a “special operation team” on May 17 seized over 4 kg of spurious cotton seeds from a vehicle at Thondupally toll gate. The vehicle reportedly had originated from Nandyal. According to the media report farmers have been suffered huge losses from using spurious seeds, which were estimated to have been sown on between 1 to 1.5 million acres in Telangana. See original report here.
Govt to distribute free soybean, peanut seeds: May 21: According to various news outlets, the Indian government will distribute free soybean and peanut seed kits to farmers across the country. As reported here, 800,000 mini-kits of soybean seed, and 74,000 packets of groundnut seeds will be distributed. According to another source, the plan, which was valued at 233 crore or 2.33 billion rupees ($31.5 million) will commence in June. Soybean varieties that can yield at least 20 quintals per hectare are destined for farmers in in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Telangana Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, while seeds of groundnuts (peanuts) would be distributed in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Crop diversification input subsidies offered to Chhattisgarh farmers: May 20: Input subsidies of between INR 9,000 to 10,000 ($124-138) per acre are being offered to Chhattisgarh farmers who opt on growing a number of target crops in the coming this kharif seasons, including paddy, maize, soyabean and sugarcane, kodo-kutki and pulses. Moreover, farmers who opt to plant trees will also be eligible for subsidies for the next three years. See original article.
Kerala veg farmers face double-whammy woes: May 19: As if Covid-19 complications weren’t enough, bad weather has agitated the situation for many vegetable farmers in Kaliyaroad, Elanadu, Kalappara, Pangarappilly, Adakkode, Pulakkode, Thonnoorkkara, Vattully, Panamkutti, Pazhayannur, Pottankode, Pariyaram, Meloor and Kodassery, who face continuous setbacks; despite reporting high yields this season, there reportedly are no buyers of their crops. See original article here.
Gujarat summer crops suffer wrath of Cyclone: May 18: Swathes of cropland, orchards and plantations in Gujarat have been obliterated by Cyclone Tauktae, especially from Gir Somnath to Bhavnagar in Saurashtra, and in South Gujarat. Assessments were ongoing, but initial reports revealed that the cyclone’s path had crossed 11 districts in the Saurashtra region, where summer crops had been sown on 304,000 hectares, which represents about a third of the total of about a million ha of summer crops sown in the state. Cropping there included bajra, sesamum, green gram, groundnut, pearl millet, and black gram. Aside from this, paddy crops had also been damaged in Ahmedabad, Sanand, Bavla and Dholka as well as Surat and adjoining districts. Original report here.
Rapid storms lash Kashmir crops: May 17: Hailstorms and thundershowers, which reportedly lasted only 20 minutes, have badly damaged crops in agricultural villages across Kashmir. The extent of loss for farmers in badly affected parts of Handwara and Kulgam was preliminarily reported to be around 40 per cent. Damage to orchards, walnut trees and other standing crops in many villages of Handwara was also reported, including in Mawer, Qaziabad, Rajwar and Ramhall, while damage to apple, cherry, apricot and peach crops was also suffered in Shopian and Kulgam districts, including Kanjiullar, Check Kachdora, Vehil, Wangam, Nehama, Lakhdipora, Bathipora and Chugalpora. Original news here.
India is key market for EWS: May 15: East-West Seed Global CEO, Douwe Zijp, in an interview with Hindustan Times, revealed how important the Indian vegetable seed market is for his company, which he noted as “among the top six vegetable seed companies in India and aim to be among the top three by 2022.” See interview here, as well as Asian Seed Magazine’s interview with Douwe on pages 32-33 here.
MP ag officers rescind soybean embargo after Maharashtra intervention: May 4: Senior agriculture officers in the districts of Indore and Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh have rescinded their previous order that banned the transport and sale of soybean seeds outside of their respective district borders. The original ban announced in April froze the movement of some 300,000-400,00 quintals of MP soybean seeds bound for Maharashtra farmers, prompting an intervention by the Maharashtra agriculture department. According to an article, Maharashtra is the largest soybean-growing state in India after Madhya Pradesh. Farmers in the former do not save and reuse seeds, and thus require 3.3 million quintals of seed for kharif planting. Original story here.
New high-yielding and pest-resistant soybean variety: 29 APR 2021: Scientists from MACS- Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi, have developed a new, higher yielding, pest-resistant soybean variety. “Using the conventional cross breeding technique they developed MACS 1407 which gives 39 quintals per hectare making it a high yielding variety and is also resistant to major insect-pests like girdle beetle, leaf miner, leaf roller, stem fly, aphids, white fly and defoliators.” reads a news release from the Press Information Bureau of the Government of India. The new variety is reportedly suitable for cultivation in Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and North-Eastern states, while “its seeds will be made available to farmers for sowing during the 2022 Kharif season.” See full press release here.
Seed sector has high hopes for good kharif season: April 26: Prompted by expectations for a good summer monsoon this year, the Indian seed industry, according to Dr Ram Kaundinya, director general of the Federation of Seed Industries of India (FSII), is optimistic about a good sales for a number of key kharif crop seeds, including cotton, soybean and maize, though sales of vegetable seed are expected to lower than usual, citing labor challenges linked to lockdown-induced migration challenges. Original story here.
Timely topics broken down by experts: April 26: Agriculture economist Dr Sudha Narayan and Godrej Agrovet Ltd Managing Director, Balram Singh Yadav were interviewed by the Indian Express on number of timely topics in Indian agriculture, including the impacts of Covid-19, and three new controversial farm laws and trends with oilseed and maize hybridization covered. See, listen to full interview here.
East-West Seed Wins Best Private Sector Extension Award: 9 Apr: East-West Seed India has been awarded the Best Private Sector Extension Service Award by the India Agri-Extension Awards 2021, instituted by a leading Agri Trade Journal Agriculture Today for exemplary contribution in agricultural extension for farmers empowerment in India & beyond through organizing Knowledge Transfer activities. Instituted by the Agriculture Today Group, the awards salute achievers and role models in the field of agricultural extension.More details on the awards here
Telangana to launch India's First QR Code Seed Tracing System: 6 Apr: Following on from the Ministry of Agriculture's announcement of the adoption of a traceability system in 2019 to help secure the supply of quality seed for farmers, Telangana plans on introducing the country's first system. Utilising a Quick Response (QR) code, the system will be used for seeds that have been certified by Telangana State Seed and Organic Certification Authority (TSSOCA) and TS Seed Development Corporation (TSSDC). The code will contain information about the seed crossing two generations including the location and dates of production and packaging, and also details of the supplier of the breeder seed. Around 330,000 tonnes of various seed crops were produced in Telangana and certified by the two agencies during 2019-2020. Original story here
Farmers Continue to Favour Illegal HTBT Cotton Seeds: Apr 6: A farmers' union in Maharashtra has warned that farming of the unapproved HTBt cotton strain will account for over 50% of the cotton farmed in the state this kharif season (starting in July), up from 25-35% in the previous year. The strain is also popular among farmers in Gujarat, Telangana and Andhra despite a potential fine of USD 1,300 and up to 5 years imprisonment for growing, selling, or storing the seeds. The reason for its popularity is due to its strong resistance to herbicides such as Glyphosate herbicide that are used to clear weeds. The increase has caused concern from the Seed Industries Association of Maharashtra (SIAM). “The seed industry is suffering because of the illegal trade of HTBt. We strongly oppose any move to encourage farmers to cultivate banned variety and appeal to the government to act in the matter,” said SB Wankhede, Executive Director of SIAM. Original story here
Supply of cotton seeds might become tight: Apr 3: Due to the rising price of cotton, which is trending higher at USD 8 per kilogram against the minimum support price of USD 7.34 per kilogram, it is expected that farmers may increase production from the previous 12 million hectares. However, the supply of cotton seeds has been affected by a fall in production and quality due to heavy rains last year in Telangana and Tamil Nadu, India’s main cotton seed producing states, where production fell by as much as 20-25%. Despite this, seed industry leaders remain optimistic “we are confident that we can meet the demand for the season,” said M Prabhakahara Rao, President of National Seed Association of India (NSAI). Read original story here
BG 2 Cotton Seed Price Increased by 5%: Apr 1: The price of BG-2 cotton seeds, which are genetically modified seeds produced by Kaveri Seeds and Bayer, has been increased by the government from USD 10.24 per 450-gram packet from last year’s price of USD 9.74, representing a 5% increase. However, the price of BG-1 cotton seed remains unchanged at USD 8.46 per 450-gram pack. The move was welcomed as a step in the right direction by the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSI), who argue that price controls should be removed completely in order to encourage investment in seed breeding and technology. Original story here
Over 5.6 Million Hectare of Kharif Rice Sown So Far: Mar 26: With 48% of winter crops harvested farmers have slowly begun planting summer (kharif) crops such as rice across the country, rice is slowly picking up and has so far covered 5.65 million hectare across the country according to figures from Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare. According to the data, rice has been sown in 3.69 million hectare this season, up from 3.16 million hectares last year. Original story here
Government Pushing Direct Rice Seeding Technique in Punjab: Mar 22: The Agriculture Department in the state of Punjab is aiming to double the area of rice planted using the Direct Rice Seeding (DSR) technique. In the 2020-21 season roughly 400,000 hectares of a total 2.5 million hectares was sowed using DSR, which helps to reduce water consumption. This year the target is 800,000 hectares and the government will monitor the areas sown and assist farmers who experience issues using the new technique. Farmers are encouraged to use the PR-126 variety which is ideally suited for DSR. Original story here:
Himachal in push to increase production of crop seeds: Mar 12: Himachal Pradesh has launched a pilot project with 12 farms and 130 farmer groups with the aim of promoting the production of seeds for major food crops within the state. Himachal Pradesh had previously relied on mostly imported seeds from other states with only 1% of the total cultivated area in the state under certified seed production. During 2019-20 Himachal had imported between 80 to 100% of high-yielding varieties (HYV), including 100% of maize, millets, barley and vegetables HYV seeds. Original story here:
Farmer protests of agriculture liberalization laws: For months farmer groups have been protesting in and around the Indian capital, attracting global media attention. According to various sources, the farmers are demanding the repeal of new laws that deregulate agriculture. There is resistance because it is reported that the new laws would disrupt conventional Indian system for subsidies and price guarantees through what is known as Minimum Support Prices or MSPs. For decades, farmers have been selling their harvested produce locally, in government-sanctioned markets called mandis, where they have been guaranteed MSPs for key commodities. By liberalizing this ‘middlemen’ system, farmers would be free to sell their crops to anyone, anywhere. Some smallholder farmers are protesting that they won’t be able to move their crops to markets and buyers outside their state, and thus would be disadvantaged. Nonetheless, the Indian PM Prime Minister insists the new laws will boost farmers' income and productivity and lure private investment into an agricultural sector. See PBS story here.
Biometric system to facilitate direct digital payments: February 2021: The Central government has asked the State governments of Punjab and Haryana to ensure direct online payment for crops procured at minimum support price (MSP). This is to ensure farmers can get the full benefit of the MSP offered by the government. Previously, the system in the two main paddy and wheat producing states, middlemen called “arhtiyas” served as a go between through local mandis. The state of Uttar Pradesh has started to implement a biometric authentication system to facilitate such direct digital payments to farmers. It has been reported that three other States -- Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh -- are also planning to adopt the biometric model. See news report here.
MP wheat procurement target on high: February 2021: Madhya Pradesh has increased its wheat procurement target for this rabi season to 12.5 million metric tonnes. Last year, the State recorded the highest wheat procurement of 13 million tonnes.
India’s central wheat procurement cycle starts on 15 March, with the minimum support price rising by INR 50 per quintal over last year’s INR 1,925. See full report here.
To new chickpea varieties tweeted by ICAR: February 2021: To mark World Pulses Day on February 10, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) announced via tweet the following: 2 Chickpea varieties - “Pusa Chickpea 10216 (drought tolerant)” & “Super Annigeri-1 (Wilt resistant)” developed through genomic intervention in breeding to improve old, popular & adapted varieties of Chickpea. See original tweet here.
Hail, thunderstorms lash Maharashtra crops: February 2021: Some 20,000 hectares of crops were lashed by hail and thunderstorms throughout the state Maharashtra , including in the districts of Buldhana, Jalna, Nanded, Nashik, Dhule, Jalgaon and Sangli. A total of 5.8 million hectares of rabi crops had been planted in the state. Of the damaged crops include mostly wheat and bajra, while concerns have been expressed over the fate of onion crops in Nashik. See report here.
Untimely hail strikes surprise in Karnataka villages: February 2021: Officials from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) in Bengaluru were reportedly surprised to learn about unseasonal hailstorms, which destroyed crops in villages in Kodagu and Chikkamagaluru. Affected villages were Nidtha, Mulluru, Gudugalale, Ankanahalli and Dundalli in Shanivarsanthe hobli. Read reports by the New Indian Express and the Indian Express.
Sundargarh farmers selling paddy below MSP: February 2021: Farmers in the tribal-dominated Sundargarh district in the State of Odisha, have reportedly been selling their paddy crop at for as low as INR 1,000 ($13.82) per quintal. The minimum support price (MSP) is INR 1,868 ($25.82). Out of a total 309,000 hectare of paddy farms, farms in Sundargarh yield no less than 7.7 million quintals if the benchmark of 25 quintals per ha is realized (2.5 tonnes). Out of 267,000 farmers in the district, only 46,900 were entitled to the MSP quota. Original news here.
Kerala vegetable scarcity plus fuel fluctuations driving inflation: February 2021: The price of vegetables and other perishable items have reportedly been skyrocketing, according to a report from Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of the southern Indian state of Kerala. The price hikes are being linked to fluctuating fuel prices as well as a gap in demand and supply, which has been tight. Specifically the price of tomatoes has doubled at Palayam market. See original report here.
In favor of GM field research: February 2021: An instructor from the Economics at Vellore Institute of Technology has penned a persuasive opinion piece in what is described as the “polarised debate over genetically modified (GM) crops in India” following the approval late last year for confined field trials to new brinjal varieties for biosafety evaluation by Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) in seven States. Read the opinion here.
Paddy landrace, indigenous varieties preservation: February 2021: Dr Debal Deb, an Odisha-based scientist, farmer and founder of the largest folk rice seed bank in eastern India — Vrihi Beej Binimoy Kendra -- possesses some 1,400 paddy landraces and as part of the efforts through the Thondaimandalam Foundation, since August 2019, has focused on cultivating, conserving and characterising over 150 indigenous rice varieties. Read more about the efforts here.
Record bumper wheat year projected: 17 Feb, 2021:Given favorable weather, wheat production has been projected by the Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research (IIWBR) to reach a record of 115 million tonnes this year. If realized, this would equate to a 7% increase over last year, which according to the fourth advance production estimates for the crop year 2019-20 (July-June), was about 100.76 million tonne. Report here.
Israeli genomics breeding to benefit Indian startup: Hyderabad-based startup, Foragen Seeds, a forage seed startup based in Hyderabad will benefit from the work of Israeli genomics AI firm NRGene in plans to commercialise new products in the coming years. NRGene’s crop breeding programme, which covers maize, rice and chili-pepper in India, will be transferred to Foragen Seeds following the signing of an agreement, which will enable Foragen Seeds to “enhance its domain expertise, consolidate the forage business and expand footprint rapidly.” Read more about the deal here on the Hindu and here in UNI India.
New disease-resistant chili varieties: February 2021: Scientists from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (ICAR-IIHR) Hesaraghatta campus have developed five new chilli varieties following 10 years of research. As reported in local media, “whitefly-transmitted virus has been ... destroying chilli cultivation in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and other parts of the country.” Efforts included analyzing, selecting and breeding from a pool of 52 chili varieties to yield hybrid seeds. IIHR plans to distribute the seeds in April through Krishi Vignana Kendras across the country, coupled with extension efforts that focus on integrated disease management technology for hybrid seeds. Read more in the Times of India here. According to another, report one of the varieties is resistant to the leaf curl virus (news here).
Bengaluru IIHR seed portal seeds booming in Northeast: February 2021: Seeds produced in and around Bengaluru and processed at the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR) Hessaraghatta campus are growing in demand for “large-scale vegetable cultivation in the seven Northeast states.” The high quality seeds are marketed through IIHR’s Seed Portal (seed.iihr.res.in) under the ‘Arka’ brand. Since being launched during Covid-19 lockdowns, the seed portal has already sold INR 6 million worth of seeds, including more than 60 different varieties of 20 vegetables “and an equal number of flowers” to farmers in all 26 Indian States, especially Northeastern states, where organic cultivation of vegetables is uptrending. Read more here.
The Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) at the end of January co-organized two online events with research, breeding and seed sector partners. The first one was a webinar on “Research Priorities for Indian Seed Sector” and was jointly hosted by FSII , Delhi and Gubba Cold Storage, Hyderabad on 23rd Jan, 2021. The program consisted of a panel discussion in which some of the best brains from the seed sector and research fraternity participated. The discussion was moderated by Ram Kaundinya, Director General of FSII. The focus of the discussion was on the possible scenarios of seed research in this new decade. See webinar on Youtube here. The second event was a virtual International Conference on the topic ‘Current Scenario & Path forward for GM crops in India’. Held 28th January, 2021, FSII co-organized it with the Alliance for Agri Innovation (AAI), and the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore. It saw discussions on new technologies that can address the problems of food insecurity, climate change while reducing expenses on crop inputs. The many hurdles in allowing the commercial release of genetically modified (GM) crops was also discussed. The speakers and audiences during the discussion pointed out that scientific data-based scrutiny of the GM technology is required and there is a need for public awareness to clear speculations about the technology. More than 500 participants who joined the conference included scientists, researchers, biosafety regulators, government officials, students, academicians and general public. See virtual conference on Youtube here.
For more detailed reports on the two events, see FSII updates on this page here.
Winter crops up by 1.8 million hectares: January 2021: The total area in India sown with Rabi crops was 67. 5 million hectares, which is 1.87 million more than the same period last year. This is according to a tweet by India’s Secretary of Agriculture, Sanjay Agarwal.
Karnataka Minister wants State Seed Corporation to become model: January 2021: B C Patil, the Karnataka Minister for Agriculture was quoted in Indian media on January 14 saying he wanted the State Seed Corporation to become a national model in India. Speaking at a meeting, he cited the ‘many benefits’ farmers can reap from the services of the Seed Corporation regarding production and supply of quality seeds as well as dealing with spurious seeds. Story here.
West Bengal State to address expensive seed potato: January 2021: Since potato cultivation in the Indian State of West Bengal is said to be heavily dependent on seed from Punjab and allegations have been rampant of a black market for this seed, the State agriculture department aims to address the situation. According to this report in Bengali, the price of potato seed has increased every year, which has increased cultivation costs.
Organic scientist remembered through seed selection training: January 2021: Sastra University in Tiruchirappalli recently organised a field day event with delta farmers to commemorate the legacy of organic scientist G Nammalvar. The aim of the event was to relay the significance of traditional rice varieties.Extension activities benefited about 300 delta farmers, who learned about thee systematic procedures of seed selection during harvest. Read more in the Times of India here.
TNAU promotes high yielding hybrid sunflower seeds: January 2021: Tamil Nadu Agricultural University recently detailed attributes of its ‘new’ hybrid variety of sunflower. The seeds of the hybrid variety, which were released in 2019, and are intended to be grown in rainfed areas like Namakkal, Erode, Karur, Virudhunagar and Coimbatore and are moderately disease resistant. The new variety of sunflower, named COH3 has a 90-day grow cycle, 42% oil content, and can provide a yield of 716 kg per hectare, which is reportedly between 200 kg to 250 kg higher than traditional varieties. Read story in Times of India here.
Black rice grown in Maharashtra: January 2021: Some farmers in Maharashtra’s Akola taluka have successfully grown a black rice for two successive seasons. The variety that these farmers are growing, called Neela Bhat, acquires a bluish-purple hue when cooked. Read full story on The better India here.
Compensation for ‘poor quality seeds’ ordered: January 2021: The Nashik District Consumers Complaints Redressal Commission has reportedly ordered a private seed company to compensate farmers which it had sold seeds to more than four years ago, which failed to germinate. Full details on the Times of India here.
Plant quarantine facility to be set up for Jammu, Kashmir: December 2020: A Post-Entry Quarantine facility is planned to be established at the Advanced Centre for Horticulture Development Zainapora Shopian. It will reportedly be developed by the National Seeds Corporation over an area of 22 hectares with funds from the National Horticulture Board, Government of India.The NSC oversees import of walnut and apple planting material for distribution in Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Details here.
State subsidized wheat seeds fail to germinate: December 2020: Some Bihar farmers have complained that state subsidized wheat seeds failed to germinate during a three wee sowing period. Affected farmers, in the districts of Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi and Nawada had procured seeds from a state government undertaking for seeds. An investigation by the state agriculture department found that out of a total of 19,000 quintals of wheat seeds supplied to farmers in Muzaffarpur district, at least 204 quintals failed to germinate. Moisture issues are suspected as part of the problem. Read full story on Down To Earth here.
AI-directed drone wheat, paddy sowing experiments: December 2020: Experiments being carried out in the Khutahan village of Mirzapur by the Institute of Agricultural Sciences, BHU are finding out how drones can excel the rice-wheat cropping system. Integrating artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and remote sensing features drones can be used to shoot pods, seeds, and crucial nutrients in the soil, not only reducing costs, but also increasing consistency and efficiency. Read full story in Times of India here.
‘Contaminated’ Indian sesame seeds recalled: December 2020: Swiss authorities have reportedly recalled shipments of sesame seeds, among other food product consignments imported from India, citing the detection of pesticides. According to this article, citing an officer from the Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office, muesli, sesame sauces and sesame seeds from India were recalled due to the detection of fumigation agent, ethylene oxide, which is considered to be potentially carcinogenic pesticide and thus banned in Switzerland and the European Union.
India should woo SAARC seed markets, says NSAI writer: December 2020: If India is to “boost local industry peacefully, we must woo SAARC markets, including Pakistan, and build stronger economic relationships independent of politics,” argues Indra Shekhar Singh of National Seed Association of India in an editorial, pointing out that “ the demand and supply gap for major seeds is 88% in Nepal, 83% in Sri Lanka, 57% in Bangladesh, 53% in Pakistan and 32% in Bhutan. On the other hand, the Indian seed sector is self-sufficient, and seed growth rate in India is 12% compared to the global growth of 6-7%.” Read article in the Financial Express here.
Farmer protests in capital affect supply: December 2020: Protests involving farmers in New Delhi are reportedly affecting the supply of vegetables. The protests, which were taking place at three major entry points in the Indian capital have mainly affected the supply of essential items like vegetables, fruits and other articles to the city from neighboring States. Read more on Fresh Plaza here.
UP govt vows to distribute vegetable seeds to farmers: December 2020:
UP State Agriculture Minister Surya Pratap Shahi promised to provide vegetable seeds for free. The announcement was made during a December 11 workshop. The news comes amidst a standoff between farmer union groups and the government, widely reported in Indian media. Full article by The Times of India here.
Bayer enters India’s home veg garden segment: December 2020:
Bayer has revealed plans to market mini packs of its Seminis vegetable seeds. According to news reports, including this one, “the mini seed packs initially will be launched for vegetables such as bitter gourd, bottle gourd, okra and beans,” and Bayer will gradually extend the mini packs across the entire range of its Seminis hybrid seeds, available from Bayer’s Better Life Farming centres across India. The packs will come in two sizes of 25 seeds and 50 seeds. In related news in November, Bayer CropScience is partnering with agri-input e-commerce platform, BigHaat for delivery of seeds and agri-inputs, to reportedly “enable last-mile delivery of Bayer’s seeds and crop protection products directly to farmers’ doorsteps.” More details here.
Haryana Agricultural University churning out HQ seeds: December 2020:
The Haryana Agricultural University in Hisar can now produce a large quantity of quality seeds thanks to advancements in knowledge and technology over the past two decades, especially with regard to its Ramdhan Singh Seed Farm, as well as efforts to set up new seed processing plants in recent years. Specifically the seed farm’s seed processing capacity is 30 quintals or 3 tonnes per hour. The plant had enjoyed a capital injection of Rs 5.7 million from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. The plant is automated, and equipped with modern seed processing equipment including pre-cleaner, graders, in-line cylinders, gravity separators, elevators and seed treatments. More details here.
Government considers hiking import duty oilseeds to bolster domestic production: December 2020:
With the aim of bolstering domestic oilseed production in North India, especially in Punjab and Haryana, the Indian government is considering raising import duties for imported oilseeds. The idea was discussed by senior officials at the end of November. Specifically, an import duty hike of 5% is being considered for Soyabean, Sunflower, and Rapeseed oil by 5%. According to an article here, “India currently levies 37.5% and 45% import tax respectively on crude and refined palm oil. Imports of crude soybean oil, crude sunflower oil and rapeseed oil attract 35% import duty. India annually imports around 15 million tonnes of edible oils, including more than 9 million tonnes of palm oil and about 2.5 million tonnes each of soy oil and sunflower oil.”
Poor germination of seeds cited for farmers going indy: November 2020:
According to an article by The Hindu Business Online “early germination failure of soyabean seeds this July saw … an increasing number of soybean and onion farmers deciding to develop seed plots, so that they don’t have to buy seeds from private seed companies.” Article here.
Maharashtra govt tells firms to disclose hybrid seed production tech on packets: November 2020.
The government of Maharashtra State has reportedly ordered companies selling hybrid cotton seeds to specify on packets details about technology used in production. The order was made on the assumption that such information could increase the value of seeds. However, seed companies and other industry bodies have questioned the order, claiming it would result in higher cost and hinder inter-State movement of seeds. More details here.
PBW Infestation in Maharashtra cotton
An infestation of pink bollworm (PBW) has been detected in Maharashtra’s cotton fields. The infestation in at least 51 villages mainly was in fields that were sown before the first week of June. According to Indian Express article, cotton has been sown on a total of 4.18 million hectares in Maharashtra this season.
First installment paid for cotton diversification in Haryana
Just over a million rupees will be dispersed to farmers in 17 districts of Haryana who diversified from paddy to cotton as part of a government incentive. The initial installment of INR 2,000 will be paid for verified land spanning 20,420 hectares in Sirsa, Fatehabad, Jind, Hisar, Kaithal, Jhajjar, Bhiwani, Charkhi Dadri, Sonepat, Rohtak, Faridabad, Palwal, Rewari, Mewat, Gurugram, Panipat and Karnal districts. The outstanding payment of INR 5,000 will be paid once the crop is in maturing stage. Reports the Indian Express here.
Odisha district short on rain in July, which could dry out steep paddy targets
ODISHA: The district of Sambalpur has reported inadequate rainfall in July, despite plentiful rain reported in June. The lack of rain since has particularly affected farmers in non-irrigated belts of the district, which reported getting 261.22 mm of rain in July, where as it usually averages 429.5 mm during the month. In June, it had gotten 321.11 mm, which is 45.29% more than the month’s average of 221 mm. According to the New Indian Express, quoting the district chief agriculture officer and Agriculture department, high yielding, hybrid and local varieties of paddy were planned to be cultivated on some 104,970 hectares, which was expected to yield 427,760 tonnes this kharif season.
Record Kuruvai paddy season
CHENNAI: Kuruvai -- short-term season for crop cultivation in the cauvery Delta of Tamil Nadu -- cropping season has peaked successfully this year “thanks to the proactive steps taken by the State government”. By August 3, Kuruvai paddy cultivation was confirmed on 387,000 acres, which is reportedly the highest for Kuruvai season during the past three decades -- 106,700 acres than the previous year, when only 280,030 acres were cultivated. This year, 650,000 tonnes tonnes of paddy are expected to be harvested. Increased cropping is credited to precision farming techniques and direct sowing. New Indian Express reports.
Hopes high for record kharif season
Despite some rain deficit in July, it is expected that India will see a record kharif cropping season this year if things continue to go well. Up to August 7, the overall area planted during this kharif cycle is 10% higher than last year, which includes a 17% year-on-year increase in area sown with rie, + 15% for oilseeds, and +44% for groundnuts. Moreover, the area sown with pulses, coarse cereals and cotton increased 4.20%, 3.70% and 4.10%, respectively. More details on the Economic Times India here. According to some perspectives, however, such as in this article with reference figures, increased planting and yields will not necessarily be reflected in farmers incomes.
Flooding, excess rain and moisture problems in many States
In August there have been many reports of excess rainfall, overflowing waterways and waterlogging conditions causing issues for crops in several Indian States, including in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana and Karnataka. In Andhra Pradesh, according to this video report the Krishna River in Andhra Pradesh has flooded, causing damage to thousands of acres of chilli, cotton and paddy crops. Meanwhile farmers in several districts in Odisha have also suffered. In Kendrapara, a low pressure system in the Bay of Bengal was the source of waterlogging and damaged crops causing prices of vegetable crops like radish, lady finger, beans, brinjal and pointed gourd surged as a result. Farmers there had also been affected by lost crops from a cyclone in May. Likewise, in Jagatsinghpur district, some 25,000 hectares of paddy crops across Balikuda, Erasama, Tirtol, Raghunathpur, Biridi and Jagatsinghpur blocks were inundated by rainwater that would not drain. In Bhubaneswar, District Collectors in 10 districts were directed by State Government to submit detailed reports on the damage due to the heavy rainfall. In Telangana, downpours inundated fields in Warangal, Bhupalpally, Karimnagar, Siddipet, Nalgonda, Mahbubnagar and Khammam, causingg damage to human life, property an crops, including across thousands of acres of paddy, cotton, green gram, red gram, black gram, papaya, banana, guava, castor, groundnut, red chilli and other vegetable fields.
New Delhi farmers pending compensation
Crops on no less than 500 acres of farmland in southwest Delhi was reportedly damaged by recent rains, and the government had initiated the process to compensate farmers following an initial damage assessment. The farmland flooded after excess rains caused the overflowing of the Nazafgarh drain, reports the New Indian Express.
Onion crops in Karnataka threatened by blotch, bulb rot
Onion crops being cultivated on some 16,500 hectares in the district of Chitradurga risk damage or destruction form purple blotch and bulb rot disease linked to heavy rainfall and moisture in the aiir. According to this report by the New Indian Express, productivity in the district is between 125 -150 quintals per hectare, and the onion price this year has fallen to between INR500-1,000 from INR2,700-45000 last year.
Odisha govt scraps 6-year-old agri-clinic plans, funds returned
The Odisha State Government has dropped plans to offer “Agri Clinics” following six years of inactivity, citing “improper planning and lack of support from identified primary societies”. According to this article by the New Indian Express, the government had allocated funds in the 2014-15 financial year to establish the clinics in cooperation with 40 identified Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies (PACS) and Large Area Multi-purpose Cooperative Societies (LAMPS), which were intended to “provide expert advice and services to farmers on various technologies including soil health, cropping practices, plant protection, crop insurance, post-harvest technology and clinical services for animals, feed and fodder management, prices of various crops in the market which would enhance productivity of crops/animals and ensure increased income to farmers.” However, the plans were dropped and unused funds ceded.
Wrong photo-period variety suspected of paddy failure in Tamil Nadu
At least 160 paddy farmers in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruvannamalai district have reported crop failure after their crops did not flower despite “growing well”. The farmers in Mandakolathur, Polur, Kalambur, Santhavasal and Mandakolathur had reportedly purchased seeds produced in Andhra Pradesh. According to an initial diagnosis from inspections, it was believed that the seeds they used were photosynthetic sensitive, which had provided good yields during a previous “Samba” sowing period (long duration variety sown around August), however the variety was now planted in the Sornavari (planting in April / May) which requires a short duration variety. An investigation is ongoing. The New Indian Express reports.
100% FDI requested for tobacco
A multi-party committee of the Indian Parliament has requested for a 1% tax on cigarettes to help tobacco farmers, and also to allow 100% FDI in tobacco production and cigarette manufacturing. According to this article by the Hindustan Times, India is the third leading producer and exporter of tobacco and tobacco products, after Brazil and China, having contributed about INR 227 370,000,000 ($3.1bn) in excise revenue during the last financial year. 100% FDI in India’s agriculture sector currently is permitted for tea, coffee, rubber and cardamom plantation and cultivations. More details here.
JUNE AND JULY 2020
Praise for kharif crop boosted MSP
This article by The Hindu Business Online looks at the reasoning behind revised minimum support price (MSP) for kharif crops for 2020-21 fiscal year, which were boosted in June for various crops, including groundnut, sesamum, sunflower, soybean and niger, jowar, bajra, ragi maize, tur, moong, urad and paddy at an average of 3 to 9%.
Mixed monsoon weather raises cropping concern
Despite bountiful rains in June, the southwest monsoon had weakened in July according to India Meteorological Department data cited in this report by the Business Standard, which notes that about a third of the 685 districts in the country had not gotten adequate rainfall. Most of the districts that suffered in July were in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat. The deficit of rain had thus negatively affected kharif season cropping, especially in the districts of Odisha, as this New Indian Express article on July 20 highlights. In contrast, this report in the Financial Express says that “higher than normal monsoon rainfall” of about 5% had resulted in a 19% increase in kharif crop sowing this year, which raises some concerns about crop prices. Bihar has particularly reported excess rains, recording 50% more than normal in June and July, reports the Times of India
Two new weather apps released
Two smartphone apps were launched in late July by the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences launched. The Meghdoot app was developed jointly by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and the Digital Agriculture & Youth team at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). The Mausam app, which provides updates on current weather, forecasts, warnings and Radar images. Both apps are available on the Google Play Store (Mausam/Meghdoot) and App store (Mausam/Meghdoot).
ICAR celebrates 92nd anniversary
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) celebrated its 92nd foundation day on July 16. To honor the occasion, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, the Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare expressed appreciation for the efforts and contributions of the agricultural scientists of ICAR over the last nine decades. He went on to congratulate the farming community for record production of crops during the COVID-19 lockdown… India Education Diary reports.
Mustard seed prices surge by 26% in Rajasthan
The Business Standard reports on the trend of rising mustard seed prices, which rose by 26% in four months. The spike is due to short supplies and rising “household demand for mustard oil as an immunity booster” According to the report, rape/mustard seed in the Alwar (Rajasthan) mandi were trading at 5,025 rupees per quintal in July, up from INR4,000 a quintal on April 1. In the Jaipur mandi, seed was selling for INR5,028 a quintal, up from 4,050 rupees.
Pulse sowing on the up in Tamil Nadu
This season, the total area to be sown with pulses in the Tiruchirapalli district of Tamil Nadu will likely increase to more than 12,500 hectares, up from about 10,000 previously. New Indian Express reports.
Indian flower market in ‘deep crisis’
Marigold cultivation has declined by as much as 70%, while demand for roses, chrysanthemums, gerbera, and lilies is also suffering as the floriculture industry dips deep into crisis. The Hindu Business Line reports.
FSII director on ‘Made In India’ potential
A recent editorial by the director-general of the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) Ram Kaundinya makes a strong case for India becoming a major international seed hub. The article, published by the Hindu Business Line (also find full article here) highlights that the Indian seed industry is worth some INR18 billion (about US$2.4 billion) and that the second most populous country is self-sufficient for crop seeds, with most hybrid seed production taking place in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat. In related news, Ram was also interviewed by the Economic Times, India in June, in which he made a strong case against unproductive regulation of the seed industry.
India could be among top five of agro commodity exporters
A wire report hosted on Live Mint makes a case that India could be among the top five exporters in the world of agro commodities. The report, citing the World Trade Centre, says that India was the eighth top exporter of agro commodities in 2019, having exported US$39 billion’s worth — behind the EU, US, Brazil, China, Canada, Indonesia and Thailand. It notes that India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables but only claims 1.8% of the export market, and could claim a larger share “Through focused intervention in capacity-building”
HBBT contamination claims
This article by the Hindu Business Online reports on alleged illegal practices regarding Herbicide Tolerant (HT) Bt cotton, which is a third-generation transgenic variety of cotton developed by Monsanto/Bayer, with a Round-Up (Glyphosate-based herbicides) resistant trait. Today, there are reportedly five million packets (of 450 gm each) in circulation and it is claimed that 10-15% of cotton area has been “contaminated with illegal seeds.” The article goes on to note that the National Seed Association of India has “offered State Governments the option to sample every seed lot before the seeds are sold in the market so as to detect and remove any contaminated lots.”. The NSAI alleges that “illegal operators continue to proliferate, and contamination has reached a tipping point, endangering seed companies, especially in Andhra Pradesh.”
MoU for organic cotton seeds
The Organic and Fair Trade Cotton Secretariat (OFTC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with 11 public and private partners committing to making organic cotton seed more widely available to feed steady demand. According to the news, reported here, initial efforts will focus on the state of Madhya Pradesh and look to expand to other areas.
Seeds to be distributed directly to farmers in Andra Pradesh villages
In order to discourage farmers from travelling to urban centers to buy seeds from private traders, officials in Andhra Pradesh plan to distribute seeds directly to farmers in villages from May 18, reports The Hindu. Farmers were requested to enroll in the seed distribution scheme through village agriculture assistants.
Tamil Nadu model for self-sufficient vegetable supply
Despite a rough lockdown start throughout India in March and April, which has been characterized by crops rotting in fields and produce supply shortages at local markets, villages are now becoming more self-sufficient in their vegetable supply chain, reports the Times of India. The article cites as a model the state of Tamil Nadu, where the agriculture department has confirmed a daily vegetable supply of 6,000 tonnes per day, produced by some 570 farmer producer organizations, who are supplying directly to consumers.
Summer gales destroy banana crop, rains submerge paddy crops
Many hundreds of hectares of banana plantations and rice paddy have been damaged by strong winds and rain in Tamil Nadu in April and May. Reports the New Indian Express, the adverse weather particularly affected farmers in the locales of Tiruchy and Pudukai.
Tobacco farmers, industry in distress
The Federation of All India Farmer Associations (FAIFA) on behalf of millions of tobacco farmers and workers in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Gujarat has appealed to the government to ease on lockdown restrictions that have inhibited the auction and trade of tobacco crops and products, while weakening demand at the same time, reports the Siasat Daily.
DAP fertilizer production sinks 38% in April
The production of Diammonium phosphate (DAP) in India experienced an 18-month low in April, reports Argus Media, citing Covid-19 lockdown restrictions since March. According to figures cited, DAP production in India in April reached about 260,000 tonnes, which was the lowest since November 2018, and represented a 38% drop from the same month last year.
Maharashtra farmers hesitant about Kharif season sowing
Farmers in the State of Maharashtra are unsure what crops they should plant for the coming Khariff or summer/rainy season. According to the New Indian Express, cotton and corn farmers had suffered from unfavorable market prices for their produce, and many of them can’t access the usual market channels and are without storage options.
State Govt mulls legal action against tomato virus rumour mongers
After invalidated reports about a new mysterious ‘deadly virus’ targeting tomato crops and consumers in Maharashtra was broadcast on local TV stations in Maharashtra, farmers were unable to sell their produce, which were left to rot in fields and markets. According to one ‘fact check’ article, broadcasts allegedly claimed that the virus, which has been referred to as “Tiranga Virus” was somehow linked to coronavirus, though no verification or evidence had been provided to support such claims. The Times of India reports that state officials intervened after affected farmers demanded for action. Samples have been sent to Indian Institute of Horticulture Research, Bengaluru, for analysis.
Punjab seed dealer raided, charged
A seed shop in the Punjab city of Ludhiana was raided by officials, who seized seed samples, bill books and other documents, while charging the dealer under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code. As reported by Hindustan Times, the dealer is accused of selling “spurious” paddy seeds at high prices. An investigation is ongoing.
Nagaland crops devastated by bad weather
Heavy rainfall, thunder squalls and hailstorms in the first few weeks of May have reportedly destroyed crops on no less than 522.45 hectares in 11 districts, with most of the affected crops being maize, tomato, kholar, potato, watermelon, cucumber, cabbage, carrots, beans and yams, reports East Mojo.
Marigolds as an alternative in Tamil Nadu
Plans are in place to mass cultivate marigold (Saamanthi Poo) in the Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu following a successful pilot planting of 10,000 flowers on one acre in the Kollidam block of Mayiladuthurai district. The crop provides an alternative or complementary crop for farmers who typically plant jasmine flowers, paddy, cotton, pulses and cashew, coconuts and casuarina, reports New Indian Express.
Plant clinics provide virtual diagnosis for farmers
Some 30 plant clinics — where farmers go to diagnose plant health and disease issues — in four Indian states have now been adapted to be virtual clinics online. Such clinics were started in 2012 by bringing plant health experts to villages on a biweekly basis to examine offer diagnostics services. According to this article, since the start of the COVID-19 lockdowns, there have been seven virtual plant clinic sessions, drawing participation from some 350 farmers in the states of Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Assam and Puducherry. Common issues among farmers growing jasmine flowers, groundnut, eggplant, chilli and rice include pests like bud worm, pod borer and thrips. The virtual clinics have been made possible by Chennai-based charity, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, and the nonprofit Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI).
Ag operations, workers permitted during Phase 2 of lockdown
The Government of India issued a new set of guidelines for the second phase of India’s lockdown, effective until at least May 3. According to an article by The New Indian Express, the government would continue to permit farming operations and farm workers to be in the field, as well as permitting “agencies engaged in procurement of agri-products, including MSP [Minimum Support Price] operations … mandis operated by the Agriculture Produce Market Committee or as notified by the state government as well as direct marketing operations by the state government or industry directly from farmers or Farmer Producers Organisations.” The article also states that the new guidelines would permit operations of tea, coffee and rubber plantations to operate with maximum 50% of their usual workers
FSII Members pledge INR90 million toward Covid-19 relief
Members of the Federation of Seed Industry of India have made substantial contributions to the Indian government and agricultural sector to support covid-19 relief measures, according to an April 23 Statement. The statement notes that FSII has been constructively engaging with the Central and State Governments in representing needs of the seed industry and in getting the necessary policy support for the processing, packing and transportation of seeds necessary for the Kharif (rainy or summer) season. Specifically, FSII members pledged more than 90 million rupees in donations which will be used towards PM Cares Fund, Chief Minister relief funds and towards other measures like procuring PPE, implementing safety measures, food distribution and awareness programmes. Click here for the full statement.
Ag Minister, ICAR reinforces digital platforms during lockdown
The Hitavada has reported on initiatives by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), under direction from Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar to continue to ensure Agriculture institutions are maximizing the use of online communication tools, apps and courses to help farmers overcome problems arising during the continued nation-wide lockdown. Accordingly, ICAR Director General Dr Trilochan Mohapatra has confirmed that the Council is using digital platforms to provide information to farmers, with three ICAR institutes engaged in COVID-19 testing on humans; moreover, ICAR has issued a total of 1,126 national and state-specific advisories, disseminated in 15 regional language through digital platforms to reach some 54.8 million farmers. These include advisories on appropriate crop management technologies for wheat, rice, maize, pulses, millets, oilseeds, sugarcane, fiber crops, mango, citrus, banana, pomegranate, grapes, litchi, spices, flowers, vegetables, melons and plantation crops such as coconut, cocoa and tuber crops. Institutes working under ICAR in Nagpur include the Central Citrus Research Institute (CCRI), Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR) and National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Utilisation Planning (NBSS&LUP).
Anticipated wheat setbacks in Madhya Pradesh
There are anticipated delays and increased expenses for the winter wheat harvest this year, extending to shortages of, and increased rental expenses of harvesters. Usually, the state depends on additional harvesters from Punjab, which are not as available due to lockdown conditions. The article notes that this year is anticipated to be a bumper crop year due to increased rainfall last year that prompted increased planting, reports India Today.
Bihar Rabi harvest almost complete thanks to abundant labor
By the last week of April, it was estimated that 90% of Rabi crops had been harvested, with credit being given to a surplus of labourers, as reported by The New Indian Express here. According to the article, daily wages have also dropped, from 450 rupees previously, to about 300 to 350 rupees, presently. The abundance of labor in the state contrasts shortages reported in Punjab and Haryana, which are related to strict COVID-19 measures.
High hopes for normal monsoon forecast, planting prospects
The Register Citizen reports on early optimism for Indian agriculture this year, citing a prediction by the Indian Meteorological Department of a 40% chance for a normal monsoon rain this year, anticipated to commence on schedule between June and September for much of the country. The article notes a record monsoon last year which contributed to a bumper foodgrains year.
Gujarat summer sowing up by 35%
The Indian Express reports that Gujarat farmers as of April 13 had sown crops for the upcoming kharif season across 891,000 hectares, which represents a 35% increase over the same period in the previous year. The article notes that onion sowing jumped by 300%; sesame by 200% and urad by 175%. Citing figures from the state agriculture department, the planting was higher than the three-year kharif seasonal sowing average of 758,000 ha. The leading planted crop was bajra , sown acros 251,000 ha, followed by banaskantha (152k ha).
Jute seeds stuck at Bangladeshi border
The Hindu Business Line on April 24 reported that as many as 50 trucks carrying nearly 1,000 tonnes of jute seeds were stuck at Petrapol Land Port in Bangoan in North 24 Parganas district, despite the clear directive from the Central government permitting movement of seeds and other planting materials. “Indian exporters whose consignments are stranded at the border since the announcement of the nation-wide lockdown on March 24 are worried because the jute sowing season in Bangladesh is drawing to a close,” reports the article, which states that Bangladesh depends on India jute seeds for 90% of its planting.
Odisha crops inundated, can’t reach the market and without storage options
Excess rain in many districts across Odisha are compounding hardships farmers are facing related to the coronavirus lockdown. At this time, farmers are concluding harvest of various rabi crops, including summer paddy, pulses and groundnuts, but rains have hampered their efforts, with effects reported in 19 districts, reports The New Indian Express. Likewise, this report details how standing crops over 4200 hectares were damaged following heavy rain and hailstorm in Sambalpur district on April 21. Aside from the bad weather, tomato and pumpkin farmers in Dhenkanal, Hatibari, Sankarpur, Pamal and Kamakshyanagar districts who are sitting on surplus stocks following bumper harvests in March — are struggling to get their produce to market, as wholesale buyers aren’t able to reach them and the farmers report challenges in obtaining necessary passes to move the produce. To add to their woes, storage in the district is inadequate and much of the crop is starting to rot.
Telangana papaya farmers at loss from lack of buyers due to covid restrictions
Papaya farmers in Telangana’s Khammam district are sitting on a surplus of fruit that they cannot sell due to the absence of the usual buyers from Delhi. The New Indian Express reports that as a result of the nationwide lockdown, buyers of the fruit, who use to travel from key market locales such as Delhi, have not shown up. The farmers have reportedly spent around 40,000 rupees per acre, however, without buyers, they are left with a surplus and plummeting prices, which have dropped from already-low prices of 15 rupees per kg, to as low as 5 rupees/kg.
Govt exempts farm workers, agriculture companies in nationwide lockdown
The Indian Economic Times reported on a March 27 order from the government that exempts “farm workers in the fields and farming operations by farmers, agencies engaged in procurement of agriculture products including MSPs, mandis notified by the state governments, inter and intra-state movement of harvesting and sowing related machines and manufacturing, packaging units of fertilisers, pesticides …” from the 21-day lockdown ordered from March 25, with restrictions on movements of people, citing the coronavirus pandemic. The news follows strong advocacy from the Indian seed and farm input sectors:
Seed industry advocates for hassle-free movement or seeds, inputs
Representatives of the Indian seed industry have been actively engaging central and state government reps to ensure there are no interruptions in the transport of seeds and other essential farm inputs across state borders during the ongoing lockdown. In India, March and May are crucial for preparing seeds for the upcoming rainy or kharif season sowing, for which around 60 percent of India’s food supply and farmers incomes are dependent.
As a precautionary measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus, many State governments in India have closed borders, allowing for only the movement of essential commodities. Seeds fall under said essential commodities under the Essential Commodities Act, according to an article by the Hindu Business Online; however, a letter issued by the Cabinet Secretary to all State governments on March 22 did not explicitly mention seeds, prompting reps from the country’s two main national seed associations – the National Seed Association of India (NSAI) and the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) — to each issue statements/letters to the government on March 23, asking for cooperation to ensure the unhindered movement of seeds and farm inputs.
In its letter, the NSAI asked for the government to allow essential staff and workers at seed companies to continue functioning, while permitting hassle-free movement of seed crops from farmers’ fields to processing centres, between different processing centres, and from processing centres to distributors and retailers so that farmers can get seeds on time for kharif sowing. According to NSAI Program Director for Policy & Outreach, Indra Shekhar Singh in a TV interview with NewsX, seed demand in India is pegged at about 250 lakh quintals, or 2.5 million tonnes.
In its statement, the FSII also called for unrestricted flow of seeds and other essential farm inputs, proposing the use of special food lanes at national and State toll booths, as well as “check-posts and on highways where food and agricultural input delivery vehicles can pass unhindered and are not subjected to roadblocks which might have been put up to restrict movement of people and other materials to fight the virus”
More India coronavirus impact, Rabi cropping news:
APSA Founding Father, India Seed Mogul Passes Away
Dr. Chopra speaks at the First National Seed Conference in India, during the early years of APSA.
Dr Kuldip Raj Chopra, researcher, entrepreneur, co-founder and honorary lifetime member of APSA, passed away on the 6th February, aged 86. Obsequies were held in Hyderabad. A seed industry giant, Dr. Chapra’s career spanned more than half a century – his inﬂuence felt by farmers in their ﬁelds, in academia, business and in government.
The founder of Mahendra Hybrid Seed Co. Pvt. Ltd., he graduated in 1953 from Allahabad Agricultural Institute, took his Master’s in Agriculture Botany in 1956 and his PhD in Agronomy from the University of Nebraska. His professional career began as a research assistant with the All India Coordinated Maize Improvement Project wherein the Indian Council on Agricultural Research (ICAR), state agriculture universities and the Rockefeller Foundation cooperated in collecting, characterizing and developing stable, high yielding lines of disease and pest tolerant germplasm for adaptable Maize Hybrids (1957-59) at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in New Delhi.
To honor his legacy and achievements Asian Seed will feature Dr. Chopra in the upcoming Q1 edition, out March, 2020. Stand by.
10th NSAI Indian Seed Congress in Delhi
L-R: RK Trivedi, Sudhir Kansal, Siddhartha Sen, Dineshbhai Patel, K Praveen, KS Narayanswamy, M Prabhakar Rao, Ashwini Garg, Ch Rambabu
Held 15-17 February t JW Marriot, Aerocity in New Delhi, the 10th NSAI Indian Seed Congress brought together hundreds of seed industry company reps, scientists,agro-specialists and government officials from across India, the region and the globe. The meeting, which is the annual flagship event of the National Seed Association of India, featured a number of lively technical sessions to promote dialogue, discussion and discourse on how to best develop and strengthen the Indian seed sector. Various common topics were covered, including Farmers and Breeders rights; varietal development and innovation, seed certification and registration systems and all related regulations and laws outstanding, including a status update of the 2019 Draft Seed Bill.
A number of noteworthy highlights were reported by leading national business news outlets. The Hindu Business Line reports that plans were revealed at the Congress by the UP State Agriculture Minister to create special seed zones across UP to make quality seeds available to its farmers; the Agricultural Secretary promised to prioritize the fasttrack of seed certification and export applications; and the NSAI President pushed for government stimulus and for establishing seed hubs across all of India’s Agro-climatic zones.
Another hot topic addressed was the status and update of the 2019 Draft Seed Bill, as Union Minister for Agriculture of India pledged “all possible support to help the seed industry to grow”.
Five technical sessions were held on 16 and 17 February as follows:
The NSAI is working on a comprehensive report of the proceedings. For more information, visit nsai.co.in/isc2020/
Okra virus insurance lauded as Advanta bags two Innovation Awards.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) recognized Advanta for its innovation excellence in two categories:
Advanta’s Okra Assurance Scheme was commended as an innovative solution dedicated to enhancing farmer prosperity. Through the Okra Assurance Scheme, Advanta offers smallholder farmers seed insurance against yellow vein mosaic virus and okra leaf curl virus on its Jaani hybrid, at no extra cost. The scheme is the first of its kind as other insurance schemes only protect against weather anomalies. Seeds represent the most critical investment for farmers. Guaranteeing a virus free crop, especially during the critical early growth stages, gained immense popularity amongst okra farmers propelling Advanta to become the number one okra seed player in India.
The Innovation Award recognition reaffirms Advanta’s vision to sustainably serve farmers with high quality seeds technology and innovative agriculture solutions. Innovation, a core pillar of Advanta, has been instrumental in delivering in-house new products and technology to address farmer’s needs amidst climate change and fast changing consumer demands. Through this cross functional approach, Advanta is driving innovation and synergy across its functions and riding on a steady growth curve. To ensure Advanta’s value added products maximize its outreach to small and marginal farmers, innovative marketing campaigns with value added services has become an integral business process. The Industrial Innovation Award is a boost to Advanta team to further drive and manage innovation across the organization.
The CII Industrial Innovation Awards were instituted in 2014 to identify and celebrate innovative Indian enterprises across industry segments and sectors. In the last five years, these awards have established themselves as one of the most coveted innovation awards in the country. The awards evaluate new processes, products, services, technologies, and other innovations that can fuel growth in the industry. They also assess new ideas and approaches along with tangible results.
The Award ceremony was hosted by CII, the apex industry body, at the Indian R&D Ecosystem Conclave, New Delhi on Dec 18, 2019. Awards were presented by eminent dignitaries, namely Mr. Ratan P Watal, Member Secretary, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, GoI; Prof. K Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the GoI; and Mr. Kris Gopalakrishnan, Past President, CII, Chairman, CII National Start-up Council and CII AI forum.
Salinity-tolerant paddy successfully trialed in low-lying area o Tamil Nadu
The New Indian Express reports on successful trials with a new salinity- tolerant variety of paddy in low-lying town of Thalainayar, which is in the Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu. The new variety, CSR-36, was produced by ICAR-Central Soil Salinity Research Institute in Karnal in Haryana, and can reportedly be harvested in 135 days after planting. One farmer quoted said he had harvested 2.5 tonnes from his crop planted on one acre. The variety was developed to address challenges of the town which had suffered flooding and salinity issues, forcing farmers there to plant in January/February instead, when farmers elsewhere were harvesting.
Chilies damaged by ‘untimely rain’ in Telangana
Farmers in five mandals of Telengana’s Khammam district blame untimely rain early in February for damages to chili crops that were left exposed to dry. According to the New Indian Express, the farmers in Kusumanchi, Nelakondapalli, Tirumalayapalem, Khammam rural and Mudigonda were mostly asleep when the rain swept through and drenched their drying chillies.
Summer, winter seed kits provided for Punjab
To promote gardening and self-sufficiency, the Horticulture Department in Punjab has prepared some 25,000 seed kits for locals, reports the Tribune India. The kits, sold for 80 rupees, contain seeds for ten “summer” vegetables. Namely, bottle gourd, sponge gourd, pumpkin, bitter gourd, tinda, long melon, lobia, cluster beans, ladyfinger and muskmelon. The article also notes that winter seed packets had also been distributed previously. They contained seeds for Radish, carrot, turnip, methi, spinach, coriander, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, black carrot and lettuce.
Locals prefer indigenous crops over high yielding govt seeds
Mongbay India reports on the annual seed festival recently held in Nayaghar district, Odisha, where several villagers were interviewed about their preference for indienous seeds over high-yielding varieties (HYV) provided by the government. The villagers claim their indigenous seeds are more resilient to local conditions, and climate change.
DECEMBER 2019 & JANUARY 2020
Delhi hosts 10th NSAI Indian Seed Congress
The National Seed Association of India (NSAI) is organizing the 10th edition of its flagship annual event: “Indian Seed Congress-2020” is set for 16 and 17 February at the JW Marriott, Aerocity, New Delhi. According to the NSAI, the event will attract delegates from nearly 500 national and global seed companies, allied agri-sector companies in seed processing machinery and seed treatment chemicals, members of public and private sector institutions, farmers, and students. The Congress provides for a multi-disciplinary and a vibrant platform for the seed and agri-input industry to interact closely with multiple stakeholders including, scientific and technology development professionals, commercial and business professionals, farmers, entrepreneurs and policy makers. Apart from inaugural and plenary sessions, exhibition and trading tables, the two-day technical sessions which enable comprehensive deliberations and discussions on scientific, technological, regulatory and business developments have always been the core attraction of ISC. Continuing with the tradition, ISC 2020 has been designed with enriching themes which have significant impact on agriculture sector and seed industry. For various technical sessions, the organizing committee has identified subject matter experts to present their views in alignment with the challenges and prospects of Indian seed industry. More info and registration on the event website.
Industry mulls impacts of Draft Seed Bill
Seed industry representatives have formally submitted feedback to the Government of India regarding the pending draft Seed Bill 2019, which aims to replace the Seed Bill of 1966. Among the new provisions featured in the draft bill include compulsory registration of seed varieties based on VCU (value for cultivation and use), as well as evaluation and licensing of seed producers and processors. There are also provisions for price controls in the event of an “emergency”, for example, as well as proposed definitions that differentiate between Seed Producer, Processor and the Dealer for licensing purposes. Comments formally submitted by the National Seed Industry of India (NSAI) and the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) mostly concern harmonizing, rectifying and/or aligning the bill with other relevant legislation and regulations, such as the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Right Act and Consumer Protection Act. A number of international APSA members with operations in India are closely monitoring developments with the drafting process, as the provisions could potentially have significant implications for conducting seed business in the world’s second most populous country, particularly with respect to provisions proposed for price controls and the transparency and clarity of certain terms. The latest draft can be downloaded here. For the latest updates, questions and comments about the draft bill, please address India’s National Seed Associations:
India drafts guidelines for gene-editing regulatory framework
India’s Department of Biotechnology on On 9 Jan released a draft document “Genome Edited Organisms: Regulatory Framework and Guidelines for Risk Assessment”. As shared in an announcement from the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII), the draft genome editing guideline is an unprecedented move to regulate genome editing technology under the existing biotech regulatory framework set in rules of the Environment Protection Act.
FSII has summarized the following salient features of the draft regulatory guideline on genome editing technology:
Genome edited products would be regulated under the existing EPA Rules 1989 & other applicable laws, Acts, and procedures governing Genome Editing
A tiered approach for risk assessment of genome-edited organisms and products derived thereof
Genome editing organisms (GEd organism) will be grouped into three regulatory categories:
Draft genome editing guidelines cover a broad range of Genome edited organisms GEd organisms, products, processes including plant, animal and human somatic cell excluding human germline editing.
Institutional mechanisms for governance & oversight of genome-edited products shall be divided into two layers e.g. Self-Governance (both individual & collaborative projects) and Institutional Governance
The draft guidelines on genome-edited organisms can be downloaded here
Bountiful sowing of winter crops reported in Gujarat
The Indian Express reports that farmers in the Indian state of Gujarat significantly increased planting of winter season (Rabi) crops this season thanks to a bountiful monsoon. Rabi crops were planted across some 3.96 million hectares (39.66 lakh hectares), which represents an increase of 27 % over the past three years’ average sowing (3.11mn ha). Citing data from the state agriculture department, the articcle notes the main crops with increased planting this season as: wheat (1.39mn ha), fodder (575,000 ha), cumin or jeera (487,000 ha) and gram (377,000 ha). The article provides detailed statistics on a locale and year-on-year comparison basis.