Seed companies should help farmers: Pocharam

As many as 46 farmers kill themselves every day in India and seed manufacturing companies should ponder on this issue and figure out ways they can contribute to reduce this tragedy, agriculture minister Pocharam Srinivas Reddy said on Tuesday.

The minister said as per the National Crime Records Bureau data, as many as 2,70,940 farmers killed themselves in the country since 1995. “We have to ask ourselves why the suicides are occurring. One farmer is committing suicide almost every half hour in the country. This number has to come down,” he said. Srinivas Reddy was addressing the inaugural session of the three-day 8th National Seed Congress here. He said that the issue assumes importance when one considers that as many as 62 per cent of those involved in agriculture were marginal farmers while 24 per cent are small farmers.

He called upon the conference to review its resolutions from the past seven years, examine how many of those were put into action and how many of them actually ended up helping farmers.

The conference is being attended by agricultural scientists, representatives of private seed manufacturing companies and central and state agriculture officials among others. The minister said that the Telangana government will introduce a post-graduate level course in seed production at its agriculture university and would consider introduction of crop insurance for farmers involved in raising crops meant for seed production. Srinivas Reddy said the Telangana government had requested seed companies to adopt at least one village from each of the 100 Assembly constituencies where agriculture is the primary activity. “The companies have agreed to do so. The government is determined to making Telangana the seed production centre for the world,” he said.

The government, the minister also said, was determined to revive seed farms owned by the state.

Currently, he said, 2.9 lakh hectares (HA.) was being used by about two lakh farmers to grow seeds for various crops in the state. This Kharif season, 36,450 farmers from 1,458 villages cultivated seed crops in 14,500 HA. The output is expected to touch 3.35 lakh quintals. Srinivas Reddy also said that so far, Telangana used to import about 2.5 lakh quintals of soybean seed but now, the state is all set to grow its own seed for the crop in one lakh hectares.

The agriculture minister said that Telangana is home to about 400 private seed processing units, produces 670 tonnes of seed an hour and exports them to 14 countries. The state supplies 60 per cent of the seed used in the country.

Special secretary of Telangana agriculture department C Partha Sarathi said good quality seed alone can ensure a 15 per cent to 20 per cent jump in yield and the conference should deliberate also on methods that can ensure that only quality seeds reach the farmers. Instead of focusing only on low volume high margin crop seeds such as cotton, the companies should expand their activities to produce high volume low margin staple crop seeds.

Source: The New Indian Express

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