Seed firms seek role in agri committee

Ask government not to amend seed enforcement regulations

Our Correspondent December 31, 2020
The ICCI president asked Australia to share its advanced agro-technology, expertise and quality seeds. PHOTO: FILE


Seed manufacturing companies along with farmers should have representation in the agricultural reforms committee in an effort to resolve the longstanding issues faced by the sector, said the Seed Association of Pakistan (SAP).

Association members appealed to the federal government not to amend seed enforcement laws and regulations in order to ensure a level playing field for all companies.

“Major issue in this sector is cottonseed and SAP has a comprehensive business plan to revive this most important crop of Pakistan,” stressed Association President Chaudhry Asif Ali and members Salman Mahmood Khan and Dr Abdul Nasir Kasi while talking to the Agriculture Journalists Association of Pakistan.

Successive governments did talk about enhancing cottonseed output but never provided resources or the required push, they added. They emphasised that they had a solution to support the declining cotton crop in Pakistan and all the stakeholders should be taken on board in that regard whether they were farmers, seed companies, textile millers or ginning factories.

Association members were of the view that educating cotton farmers was a must while input of ginners should also be taken into consideration, which was the most neglected stakeholder of the cotton value chain.

Shedding light on the government’s plan of allowing provinces to apply seed enforcement laws, the association leadership alleged that certain companies were behind the move, which had been lobbying for the past six years. These companies did not even have 1% share in cottonseed production but they were considered very influential at the provincial level, they added.

The association president said two basic stakeholders, which included the growers and the seed body, had opposed the government’s move while different chambers and organisations representing the growers also raised their voice against the proposal.

Ali said they were against the decision because seed was a federal subject in the old seed law and even in the amended seed Act enforced in 2015.

He was of the view that the agriculture extension departments of provincial governments did not have the required capacity as their basic task was to ensure transfer of new technology to the growers besides forewarning of any pest attack.

He said the categorisation of companies, which was being proposed, was not enforced anywhere in the world.

“Punjab is opposing this move because 90% of seeds of all crops are being produced in the province and these companies may find it tough to sell their seeds in other provinces after the new regulations,” he lamented.

Furthermore, he suggested that the Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department could handle seed production and supply in all provinces of the country.

“If they do not have the required infrastructure or manpower, then these prerequisites should be provided to them,” he stressed and added that there should not be two regulators for a single business.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2020.

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