Important Essay : Telangana to be the Seed bowl of India! How and Why?
No doubt, the agriculture scientists and policy makers of the Telangana state are eager to exploit the logistics – favourable climate conditions, fertile soil and growing global demand for hybrid seeds, particularly genetically modified seeds. However, the Telangana government is yet to ground the policy initiatives. The seed industry requires the concessions such as: subsidy on power, tax concessions, subsidies to farmers for micro irrigation systems and more importantly institutional support. There is a need to have a focused approach towards seed farming in most of the districts, particularly Warangal, Karimnagar and Nizamabad. It is time for the government to cajole the farmers and correct the anomalies to reap benefits from global opportunities and achieve KCR’s dream of transforming Telangana into the ‘seed bowl of India’.
There is no doubt, that a high yielding, disease free and less water consuming seed is the basis and most critical input for sustainable, prosperous and rural based agricultural economy. And historically the Telangana state has always been at the centre stage of the seed cum green revolution in the southern region. More promising opportunity now would be its chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, who is farmer himself and a champion of sustainable farming, and is now advocating seed farming as a God-send solution to effectively meet the short term financial needs of the debt-trapped marginal farmers and save them from the tragic ends – suicides .
Globally, the seed industry is currently worth $37 billion with conventional seed share at $19 billion and genetically modified seed at $18 billion. However, the Indian market is still novice in this sector with an estimated market size of about $2 billion and exports amounting to about $360 million , annually. As per the industry projections, the export demand is expected to double in the next five years to over $600 mn, where the states like Telangana could take full advantage of the opportunity. India is addressing 32 per cent of the GM and hybrid seed demands of the entire globe of which AP (albeit, Telangana contributed about 50 per cent of India’s stake).
Fortunately, the Telangana state is blessed with diverse climatic conditions such as a balanced composition of cool and dry weather around the year giving an opportunity to produce and store the quality seed. Hence the industry looks for an encouraging seed policy, says the industry official in the recently held national seed congress at Hyderabad. During a visit to Chattisgarh, which made some advancement in seed material development, the Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao said that his government is coming up with a policy to promote green house technology on a pilot basis in his state covering about 1,000 acres and also proposed subsidy up to 75 per cent of the cost.
Again, Hyderabad will be its major advantage with about handful of research institutes working, which can be capitalised in getting the organizational support for Rao’s wish to transform Telangana into a quality seed producing state in the country. In fact, the state is already producing almost over 50 per cent of the seed produced in the country, as most of the seed companies have their development centres, pilot nurseries and projects in the state and are generating hybrid and GM seeds to cater to the domestic and export markets. The state has a crop area of over 41 lakh hectares in Khariff and about 13 lakh hectares during Rabi season. The agricultural officials claim that the state has the highest seed replacement rate in the country.
To have a cursory view, the districts Karimnagar and Warangal produce about 90 per cent of hybrid paddy seed, while Nizamabad is considered citadel of hybrid fodder sorghum and bajra seeds. Besides, the state has efficient and economic seed proceeding plants and storage facilities.
Addressing the 8th national seed congress which concluded recently Agricultural Minister P Srinivas Reddy stressed the need to establish a seed export zone, a quarantine department, cold storage facilities, testing and registration, marketing and logistic support from the government.
Ankapur, a self-sufficient hamlet located in Armoor mandal of Nizamabad district with an annual rainfall of 1100 mm and subtropical climate has become a role model for entire country in seed development. It has been identified as model village by ICAR, ICRISAT and IRRI for replacing cereals and traditional food grains to seed crops.
The farmers in the village have adopted modern methods to raise commercial crops like turmeric (haldi), sorghum (red jowar), perl millet (bajra), maize (makka) and a host of vegetables as short term crops. Agriculture Minister Srinivas Reddy terms the village as a bright star in TS cap as it has been logged down for seed production with round-the-year weather promoting one crop or the other. Having about 30 seed processing units, the village is clocking a turnover of a few hundred crores.
Now the seed cultivation is spreading to nearby villages and the entire region is now houses the processing units of the several major seed companies like Pioneer, Pro-Agro, Ganga Kaveri, Kaveri, Tulasi, and Nuziveedu. The Industry officials say that there was vast scope for seed production, particularly GM seed in Telangana in view of demand in south-east Asia and African countries (Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh). They propose a seed valley, an export promotion council besides industry friendly regulations.