In the intricate tapestry of global agriculture, seeds play a fundamental role as the primary bearers of life and diversity. Their movement across the globe is not just a matter of trade but a narrative of cultural exchange, scientific advancement, and economic development. India, with its rich agricultural heritage and burgeoning role in the international seed trade, stands at the forefront of this dynamic. This blog delves into India’s contribution to the global seed market, the strides made in pulse productivity, the country’s ornamental diversity, and concludes with the imperative of fair policy regulation in seed trade.
1. India’s Share in International Seed Trade and Future Outlook
India’s role in the international seed trade is both historic and evolving. As of now, India is a significant player in the global seed market, primarily in the export of vegetable seeds, spices, and, increasingly, in cereals and pulses.
The worldwide seed trade each year amounts to $14 billion. India possesses the capability to secure a 10% portion of this market, translating to $1.4 billion, or approximately ₹10,000 crore, by the year 2028.
The country’s diverse agro-climatic zones enable the cultivation of a wide variety of seeds, making it a hub for both traditional and hybrid seeds.
The Current Scenario
India’s seed export market has been growing steadily, with a notable increase in the export of high-yielding and disease-resistant varieties. The government’s support through initiatives like the ‘Seed Export Promotion Scheme’ and the establishment of ‘Agri Export Zones’ has further bolstered this growth.
The future of India in the international seed trade looks promising. With advancements in biotechnology and a focus on sustainable agricultural practices, India is poised to increase its share in the global market. The development of climate-resilient seed varieties and the expansion of organic seed production are areas where India can significantly contribute and lead.
2. Improvement in Productivity of Pulses: Harbinger of Better Nutrition for All
Pulses, a staple in the Indian diet, have seen a remarkable improvement in productivity in recent years. This surge is pivotal not just for India but for global nutrition, considering the high protein content and environmental benefits of pulse cultivation.
During the 2020-21 period, pulse productivity saw a 13% rise, reaching 885 kg per hectare, and a 9% increase to 853 kg per hectare in 2017-18, up from 786 kg per hectare in 2016-17. This reflects a 10% peak in production growth since 2016-17, with a consistent upward trend observed in the area under cultivation, ranging between 28-29 million hectares during this period.
The Leap in Pulse Production
The introduction of high-yielding, disease-resistant pulse varieties, coupled with government initiatives like the ‘National Food Security Mission’, has led to a significant increase in pulse production. This not only ensures domestic nutritional security but also positions India as a key player in the global pulse market.
Impact on Nutrition
The increase in pulse production has far-reaching implications for nutrition, both in India and globally. Pulses are an affordable source of protein, especially for populations in developing countries. Their role in combating malnutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture is invaluable.
3. India: A Land of Ornamental Diversity
India’s agricultural diversity is not limited to food crops. The country is also rich in ornamental plants, which form a significant part of its horticultural exports. From traditional flowers like roses and marigolds to exotic orchids and anthuriums, India’s floral diversity is vast and vibrant.
In India, the cultivation of ornamental seeds spans an area of approximately 600 to 800 hectares. Punjab is a major contributor, accounting for about 45-50% of this area dedicated to seed production. Other significant contributors include Karnataka, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, and Haryana. Specifically, Punjab has around 450 hectares utilized forthe production of flower seeds, generating a turnover exceeding 60 million.
The Ornamental Trade
The ornamental plant trade in India is not just economically significant but also culturally important. These plants are integral to various Indian traditions and festivals. The export of these ornamentals contributes to sharing India’s rich cultural heritage with the world.
Conservation and Sustainability
As the demand for ornamental plants grows, there is an increasing focus on sustainable cultivation practices. Conservation of indigenous varieties and the development of eco-friendly cultivation methods are essential to maintain this diversity.
The Need for Fair Policy Regulation in Seed Trade
Seeds are fundamental and crucial for sustainable agriculture, with the effectiveness of all other agricultural inputs largely depending on the quality of seeds. It’s estimated that high-quality seeds directly contribute about 15-20% to total crop production, a figure that can increase to 45% with the efficient management of other inputs. The evolution of India’s seed industry, especially over the past 30 years, has been remarkable.
A significant transformation of the seed industry in India was initiated by the Government of India through the National Seed Project, implemented in three phases: Phase-I in 1977-78, Phase-II in 1978-79, and Phase-III in 1990-1991. This initiative played a pivotal role in strengthening the necessary seed infrastructure relevant to that period, marking a key turning point in the development of an organized seed industry in India.
Another major milestone was the introduction of the New Seed Development Policy in 1988-1989, which fundamentally changed the character of the seed industry. This policy opened doors for Indian farmers to access some of the best seeds and planting materials available globally. It encouraged significant investment from private entities, Indian corporations, and multinational companies in the Indian seed sector. This investment was backed by strong research and development, focusing on high-value hybrid seeds for cereals and vegetables, as well as advanced products like Bt. Cotton.
As a result of these developments, farmers now have a broad range of product choices, and the seed industry has adopted a ‘farmer-centric’ approach, driven by market demands. However, there’s an urgent need for State Seed Corporations to adapt in terms of infrastructure, technology, approach, and management culture. This adaptation is essential for them to remain competitive in the market and to increase their contribution to the national goal of enhancing food production for achieving food and nutritional security.