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The need of Government certification for organic seeds

 The need of Government certification for organic seeds

Context:

Currently, there is government certification only for organic lands and organic food but not for organic seeds. This is the scenario even though the Centre launched the ambitious Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana in 2015 to promote organic farming. The budget also mentioned that it would encourage organic farming through FPOs and village producer organisations. 

What are organic breeder seeds?

  • These seeds are produced from non-chemically treated parent plants and should not be sprayed with chemicals after harvest. But there is no government guideline as such.
  • Even the National Programme for Organic Production, a government regulatory system on organic farming, just mentions that chemically untreated conventional seed and plant material can be used in case of unavailability of organic seed and plant material.
  • In case of disease removal, the Indian Minimum Seed Certification Standards recommends certain steps to be followed, including mention of treatment processes and indication for toxic substances.

Current scenario:

  • Negligible amount of organic seeds are available in the formal seed distribution network including private retailers
  • As organic seeds are not being distributed, indigenous varieties are being collected from farmers and documented under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act, 2001. However, this is not the right approach. 
  • There are hardly any legal safeguards that farmers will not be cheated.

Solution

  • Community seed saving which will also reduce input cost for farmers
  • It is the government’s responsibility to produce seeds and distribute them among farmers if it is pushing for organic farming
  • Two types of hybrid seeds are available in Goa: one chemically treated and the second chemical free. Every farmer should have this option.
  • The National Seed Corporation (NSC) will start organic seed production from the 2018 Kharif season, particularly in areas where they have not been cultivated for long. NSC which has 22 ha of land across many states also plans to cover new areas.

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