Certified seeds must for development of agriculture sector

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Experts have stressed the need to provide certified seeds to farmers and simplify the process of certifying varieties for the development of the agriculture sector in Pakistan.

They told WealthPK that 62 percent of farmers’ needs for seeds were met by the informal sector in the country. In the absence of governmental control, most of the seeds provided to farmers informally are of poor quality. Resultantly, the farmers find it hard to increase the yield of their crops.

Sources said that informality in the sector was a result of the outdated legal and administrative structure. Most breeders choose to commercialise their new varieties in the informal sector, rather than submitting them to Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department.

They said that serious players with a strong market presence, as well as fly-by-night enterprises looking to make quick cash, were focusing on the informal sector. The new types of seeds are easily identified by their breeder and are frequently marketed under company labels.

Dr Shakira, a senior scientific officer at the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council, said that private seed providers were pushing against the outdated regulatory system in Pakistan. She said that seed producer licensing, a variety of release procedures, access to public germplasm, quality control, intellectual property rights and import and export were governed by laws and regulations enacted decades ago for a system dominated by public sector businesses.

“With 3,513 full-time researchers, Pakistan has one of the largest agricultural research systems among developing countries,” she said. Most of them work for government-funded research agencies, which are responsible for maintaining germplasm, importing exotic material from other countries for local adoption, producing cultivars and training personnel.

Dr Shakria said that federal institutions, provincial institutes and agricultural universities were the three main public sector entities in Pakistan. She said that 782 seed firms including five multinational and four state-owned enterprises were operating in Pakistan. Punjab has 644 seed firms, the highest number in the country, followed by Sindh with 96, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 25, Balochistan with five, and Gilgit-Baltistan with three companies.

She said that National Seed Council recently issued “Rules for Certification of Fruit Plants” to improve the quality of nursery plants. She said that regulations would be amended to provide legal assistance to people in the development of the infrastructure required for the production and distribution of high-quality fruit trees free of diseases.

 

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