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Seed Industry in India: Poised for a leap

Seeds form the fundamental and crucial input for sustained growth in farm production, often stimulating the
use of new methods, machinery and yield-enhancing agro-inputs. The role of the seed sector is not only to
ensure adequacy in seed quality but also to ensure varietal diversity. Today, the Indian seed programme
boasts one of the biggest seed markets in the world, with annual sales at
around US $920 million. Of this, domestic offtake accounts for US $900
million and sales in the global market account for the remaining US $20
million.

The New Policy on Seed Development (NPSD), established in 1988 with


the objective of augmenting productivity and output quality, stimulated
major growth in the industry as it attracted a lot of investment in seed
business from major domestic seed companies. Given the growth of the
seed sector in recent years, India has the potential to become the foremost player in the seed export business
in the developing world with prospective markets in Asia, Africa and South America.

Public Sector: Like many agriculturally developed Asian nations, India has sizeable public and private
sector seed businesses. Giant public sector players include the National Seeds Corporation (NSC), the State
Farms Corporation of India (SFCI) and the thirteen State Seed Corporations (SSCs). NSC was the first
public sector organization, established in 1963, and remained virtually the only agency for seed production
for around 13 years. Its role extended to several developmental programmes including training, quality
control and extension activities in seeds. This was followed by the setting up of the SSCs under two
consecutive plan periods, supported by the World Bank, and these largely adopted the role of the NSC in the
Indian States. These corporations engage principally in production and marketing of seeds of high yielding
and hybrid varieties developed by the public sector.

Private Sector: Although private seed companies such as Poacha and Sutton have been established since
the pre-independence era, accelerated growth of the private sector began only after the introduction of the
new seed policy in 1988 which ushered in a liberal business climate. Currently there are over 200 private
seed companies, together with a few multinational companies, and these tend to focus on low volume, high
value crops with the principal effort being placed on creating hybrids for oilseeds, maize, cotton and
vegetable crops.

The private sector accounts for 70% of the market in terms of market turnover whereas the public sector has
the greater share in terms of volume sales.

Global Initiatives: India today has a critical mass and level of growth that it could use not only to cater to
the growing domestic requirement but also to make a concerted effort for global trade under provisions of
GATT and WTO. Furthermore, India is endowed with second largest area of farmland, and the largest area
of irrigated land, in the world and, with its huge germplasm diversity, its seed industry is well placed to
serve both domestic and international markets.