By Anindita Dey
The ministry of agriculture has allowed import of wheat and paddy seeds by both government agencies and private companies for the next two years. This is the first time the import of both has been permitted since the New Policy on Seed Development of 1988.
That policy was framed to provide the best planting material available abroad to Indian farmers. Prior to this, the policy facilitated import of seeds under various categories such as coarse cereals, pulses,seeds of vegetables, flowers, etc.There are riders to the new decision.
Under the policy window, an importer is allowed to bring in wheat and paddy seeds for a period of two years but only from a foreign supplier with whom the Indian importer has entered into technical or financial collaboration.
Besides, the foreign supplier should provide the technology of the parent line seeds or nucleus or breeder seeds to the Indian importer within two years thereafter. The period of two years would be from the date of import of the first consignment.
Officials said the move was due to the importance of the food security programme and need for sufficient harvest to support the growing population of the country. “We should not restrict farmers and the country from (getting) the improved seed varieties available globally if it can support India’s endeavour towards ensuring food security,” stated an official source. The ministry says before the final import takes place, the importer will undergo trial and evaluation ofthe seeds by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
A company will first import 16 kgof wheat seeds or five kg of paddy seeds and give these to an ICAR-accredited farm for evaluation. The farm will announce the eligibility within three months, after which the eligible importer can apply forbulk import of such seed.
ICAR has research collaboration with International Rice Research Institute, Philippines, and International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, Mexico). The germplasm of wheat and paddy is also being imported through the International Board of Plant and Genetic Resources.