Farmers in Sindh have raised concerns over the exorbitant price of counterfeit seeds, and their impact in slowing the growth and development of agriculture across the province
Despite efforts to produce local seed, the sale of counterfeit seeds by unregistered companies is hindering the development of agriculture in the province. The situation has become so dire that farmers are struggling to find high-quality seeds at affordable prices, leading to a decline in crop yields and overall agricultural production in the region.
This issue, combined with the rising costs of input, are posing significant challenges for the farmers in Sindh and underscores the need for a comprehensive solution to control the widespread sale of spurious seeds.
In connection with the revival of cotton crop, the Karachi Cotton Brokers Forum and the Karachi Cotton Association’s Brokers Advisory Committee held a meeting with the owners and growers of some of Sindh’s largest registered cotton seed companies, where it was revealed that the province is being supplied unregistered seeds that are harmful for the agricultural ecosystem of the province.
Matiari Seed Company Chairman, Nadeem Shah explained that, “About 80% of the cotton seed in Sindh is supplied by seed companies based in Punjab. Most of these companies are unregistered, buy cotton seeds from ginning factories and sell spurious cotton seeds without processing, due to which cotton farmers suffer irreparable losses.”
“We have no objections against seed companies that are registered in Punjab, but unregistered, fake companies should be banned,” demanded Shah.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Concave Agri Services President, Muhammad Ali Iqbal said “Companies registered in one province, such as Punjab, can manipulate the situation in other provinces if the authorities are not vigilant. Unfortunately, this is happening in Sindh at a time when the farmers of the province are already facing a shortfall caused by the floods.”
Grower Marketing Lead at Bayer Crop Science, Azeem Khan Niazi said, “About 40% of the cotton seed available in the market has either been saved by the farmers or is available in ‘brown bags’ being sold in the grey market.
“The grey market sources its seeds through ginning mills. Cotton seed production, however, is an intricate process and requires special gins, careful treatment and storage. The seed acquired through the regular ginning of produce crop is, therefore, substandard and can be impure. Therefore, the quality of the seeds available in the grey market is also questionable, both in terms of genetic purity and germination,” said Niazi.
“Over 700 seed companies operate in Pakistan, but only three to four have proper cotton seed breeding programmes. Most companies market crop produce as seeds and lack the expertise and infrastructure to meet the proper standards,” he said, adding that, “The unavailability of newer and better cotton seed varieties is also a consequence of this failing.”
Sindh Abadghar Board (SAB) Senior Vice President Mahmood Nawaz Shah lamented that, “As farmers, our major concern is that first the government lowered the standard of germination for cotton and also increased its price. Despite having 6000 acres of land and infrastructure, the Seed Corporation of Sindh is unable to provide quality seeds to farmers.”
The ‘rate’ of seeds, meaning the quantity of seeds per acre, which was 2kgs per acre has now increased to more than 5kgs due to the bad quality of cotton seeds.
“The seed rate in the last three years has actually doubled in Sindh,” said Shah said.
“Earlier, one bag of seeds was available for Rs1000, but now it is available for Rs2500 and the market is speculating a further jump to Rs4000,” said the president of Concave Agri Services.
Reference Link: Published in The Express Tribune, February 10th, 2023.