National Seeds Corporation (NSC) pioneered the development of Indian seed industry on scientific lines with its involvement in the formulation of seed certification standards. Its chairman and managing director SK Roongta speaks on a range of issues. Excerpts:
What is our country’s present status of seed availability and how does the future look like?
The requirement of quality seeds in the country, based on SRR (seed replacement ratio) of 25, 33 and 100% respectively for self-pollinated, cross-pollinated and hybrids was assessed at 249 lakh quintals. Against this requirement, the country produced about 280 lakh quintals during 2009-10. Although there has been surplus production of seeds in certain crops, there were was non-achievement of the SRR in crops like lentils, gram, sunflower, groundnut and safflower.
In a nutshell, the availability of quality seeds in the country has improved tremendously in the last five years — from 141 lakh quintals in 2005-06 to 280 lakh quintals in 2009-10 — but we are yet to achieve self-sufficiency of seed availability in all crops.
What are the focus areas of NSC and how do you propose to achieve the same?
After having achieved a production level of about 16 lakh quintals of certified seeds, NSC is now focusing on improving its product-mix by introducing newer and better varieties. At the same time, NSC is shifting to hybrids including vegetables.
In the coming years, NSC would focus on producing more of oil seeds rather than cereals like wheat and paddy and also increase its production of hybrids in maize, pearl millet, sorghum, paddy and vegetables.
How do you ensure the quality of seeds produced by NSC?
All the seeds produced by NSC are certified by an independent seed certification agency of the state as per the Indian minimum seed certification standards. Besides, NSC also undertakes its quality control inspections at the field as well as processing and seed testing level.
A full fledged quality control wing with technical personnel is in place in all the regional offices to undertake quality control check at every level of production, processing, storage and marketing. The seed produced by NSC is tested in NSC’s quality control laboratories, besides testing in seed testing labs of state governments.
Such seeds have to pass the minimum quality standards in both laboratories before they are packed and marketed to farmers. Besides this, NSC also has a testing facility to test the genetic purity of the foundation seeds produced by the corporation.
What’s future role for NSC in the indian seed industry?
As the acreage under cultivation cannot be increased, the only option is to increase the productivity levels further. NSC has to therefore play a significant role in making available larger quantities of quality seeds including high yielding varieties.
Secondly, NSC will play a larger role in terms of providing seeds in the seed bank which can be used at short notice in case of calamities like floods or droughts.