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Title: New Indian Seeds Bill: Stakeholders’ Policy Advocacies to Enact
Authors: Manjunatha, B L
Rao, D U M
Dastagiri, M B
Sharma, J P
Burman, R Roy
Keywords: Compensation;Farmers’ rights;Price regulation;Punitive and accountability measures;Quality control;Self-certification;Trait fee
Issue Date: Mar-2016
Publisher: NISCAIR-CSIR, India
Abstract: The new Seeds Bill was introduced in the parliament in 2004. The extent of dissent among various stakeholders is evident from the fact that the Bill is not enacted into an Act even ten years after its first introduction in the parliament. If Seeds Bill has to be passed into Seeds Act, it is imperative that contentious issues have to be amicably resolved and settled. Hence, it is important to understand the concerns and priorities of all those associated with Indian seed industry. In this context, this study was aimed at identifying the priorities of various stakeholders with respect to Indian seed legislation. The study was conducted in Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Bihar involving six sets of stakeholders: 240 farmers; and 30 respondents each from State Departments of Agriculture; Researchers form ICAR and SAU’s; NGO’s; Seed dealers and Private Seed Companies (PSCs). Total sample size for the study was 390.

Farmers’ expectations from the new Seeds Bill were to protect and uphold their traditional rights over seeds. This priority was implicit for farmers irrespective of their awareness and knowledge on laws that protected and upheld these rights such as PPVFRA 2001. Farmers’ dependence on formal seed market and consequent demand for availability of quality seeds at affordable prices has increased. Government’s focus on increasing Seed Replacement Rate must be preceded with strict quality control regime in production and distribution of certified/quality seeds. Farmers also demanded for strengthening and incentivizing informal seed production and distribution system which accounts for upto 80 per cent of seed distributed in the country. Speedy and efficient compensation mechanism needs policy attention. The priorities of NGOs and Agriculture Department Officials (ADOs) were similar to those of farmers. However, ADOs believed that strengthening of public sector seed R&D, production, certification, testing, quality control and distribution system was the most priority area. There is a great degree of agreement among farmers, NGOs, ADOs and researchers that State governments ought to be granted enough powers to regulate seed industry in their respective states including powers to regulate sale price of and trait fee over seeds, to pay compensation and to take strict punitive and accountability measures. Development of new cultivars and production and distribution of quality seed were the priorities of researchers. Seed dealers expressed that measures to strengthen market infrastructure and curbing market malpractices need utmost attention. PSCs’ priorities were completely different and even conflicting with those of farmers and other stakeholders. Their concerns were deregulation of seed prices, liberalization of Indian seed sector including nil/least market intervention by government, access to germplasm available with public sector, PPP to market public-sector bred cultivars, self-certification of seed and single window mechanism to oversee the clearance of transgenic crops.

When compared with farmers’ priorities, the PSCs differed significantly on all twelve contentious issues; researchers and seed dealers on eight issues and ADOs on five issues. NGOs priorities were similar with those of farmers on eleven issues. Issues such as regulation of seed sale price and royalty fee, compensation mechanism, granting powers to State governments, strengthening public and informal seed systems are the common issues on which there is general agreement by all stakeholders except PSCs. These issues need to be addressed in the final draft of the bill before it is enacted into Seeds Act.
Page(s): 73-88
ISSN: 0975-1076 (Online); 0971-7544 (Print)
Appears in Collections:JIPR Vol.21(2) [March 2016]

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