Telangana aims to be Seed Bowl of India

By: Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao 
[The writer is CPRO to Telangana CM]

Gone those days when many farmers used to set apart a portion of their agriculture product normally grown in an exclusive piece of land to be used as seed for the following year. These farmers were selling on affordable price to others mostly in their village and some times in the neighboring villages. Thus each village was self sufficient in that aspect then. As far as paddy cultivation is concerned some farmers with surplus land holdings used to develop seedlings and sell them to others at the time of plantation, also on affordable price. Unfortunately over a period the system has been discontinued and in its place farmers have been propelled to buy seeds from agencies. Olden day’s practice of growing seeds for their needs by farmers has been totally abandoned. Slowly this has become a monopoly business in the country and several states and with the growth of business some of the agencies indulged in sale of spurious seeds also. The change over, over a period, resulted in both bad and good effects. Now the question is how do we convert this scenario totally to the advantage of the state and make Telangana the seed bowl of India? Seeds are a critical and basic input for enhancing agricultural production and productivity in different agro-climatic regions. Indian seed programme largely adheres to the limited generation system for seed multiplication.

Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao in a meeting with Seed Company representatives held at Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agriculture University on 5th October 2015 dealing with the subject told them to adopt one village in each of the 95 Rural Assembly Segments to develop seeds. He said the Government will extend full support to them in all aspects. Against this background CM also briefly detailed the genesis of this idea which had its origin during the agitation for separate Telangana State. At that time the then leader of the movement and now Chief Minister of the state had several meetings among persons drawn from different fields on the future course of action once Telangana State is formed including the issue of seeds.

In one such meeting former Vice-Chancellor of SV University Professor VR Reddy told CM that Telangana has a typical land mix coupled with excellent moderate, non-extreme climatic conditions that ideally suits for seed production so that Telangana could be converted as seed bowl of India. In Telangana in majority of villages we find red soil and also black soil lands side by side like in ICRISAT which is chosen for research. Touching upon various aspects concerned to the subject CM highlighted several issues connected to farming and agriculture.

Agriculture University, once an abode for research activity, has almost done away with that. Department of Agriculture has done away with extension work and its main concentration is on distribution of fertilizers and pesticides. No agronomist is found in the state. Both the department and university needs to regain their past glory. A state that has excellent opportunities is totally neglected in the erstwhile rule. Farmer is naturally depressed and farming has collapsed.

Despite this there has been tremendous seed development in the state. As against 438 rural mandals there are about 364 seed companies. About more than a Crore Acres of land is available for cultivation including seed development. Telangana shall have to be divided into different crop colonies to analyze and assess the type of crop that could be grown there. It could be done district wise and mandal wise. In all the lands soil testing has to be done.

There is a need to assess the domestic consumption of various agricultural products and the land required for that. It will be a good idea if rest of the land is made use for seed development. Ultimately in the field of agriculture the overall productivity has to be improved. For enabling this Government decided to allot one agronomist for every 5000 acres of land who will be thoroughly trained and equipped with all latest knowledge in farming techniques to help farmer in all aspects. CM said that the whole world is looking towards Telangana for supply of seeds and to grab the opportunity Telangana should make a fresh beginning. In many countries it is difficult to grow seed. By identifying such countries wherever there is a need, Telangana may do seed export. A strategy has to be drawn to develop seed production in the state so that entire country’s need could be met from here. An estimation of the extent of land where seed production could be taken up has to be made. A strategy also has to be drawn as to how farmer could be encouraged for seed production educating him about its profitability. The present area of seed growing land of 2 Lakhs 90 acres could be further expanded.

Agriculture is the main stay of the Telangana State and the Government is determined to develop and improve this sector. The state predominantly consists of small and marginal farmers. Seed input is an important catalyst for the development of agriculture. Availability of quality seed is the foundation for enhancing productivity and hence need for quality seed production. Seed production in the state has unmatched quality compared to any other state owing to several factors like favorable climate, diverse soils, facilities for seed storage, geographical advantage, enthusiastic famer etc. Major crops involved in seed production in the state are rice, maize, Bt Cotton, pulses, millets and oilseeds. At present seed production is mainly concentrated and confined in the districts of Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Mahaboobnagar and Warangal.

In addition to this one must give a thought to start farming organizations to benefit farmers which as of now is an unorganized sector. Their problems are varied and differ from others. For example farmers are used to grow a crop which normally yields a better price in a particular year. When they grow it the prices go down steeply the next year resulting in heavy losses to the farmer. If this happens on a continuous basis agriculture community suffers. How to overcome this? How to educate a farmer? If farming is to be made profitable what has to be done? Can we think of district wise or mandal wise or revenue division wise units for growing a particular crop? There are certain crops which are grown more than the requirement and hence there may not be sufficient market for them. How do we regularize cropping pattern? It is also desirable to apportion a particular Zone or Unit exclusively for growing vegetables and so also for other crops.

A study may also be undertaken either by University or by Department to suggest Telangana farmer to go for a particular crop that is in shortage and not possible to grow in neighboring states. Thought should also be given to increase production by using micro nutrients. Concept of self supported villages is also to be developed.

It is time that University and Department sits together and evolves a comprehensive strategy in tune with the social transformation and technological developments so that the agricultural community will not go in to depression and instead flourishes in future.

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