February 14, 2009 3:56:32 am
It is after four years after it was framed that the Seed Bill would be presented before the Parliament for clearance this session,which,incidentally,is the last session of the UPA government before the nation goes to polls.
Punjab wants the Bill to be cleared for various reasons. We are now gradually shifting towards hybrid crops and in such a scenario we need to ensure that the seeds coming to our farmers are of good quality, explains Director (Agriculture) Balwinder Singh Sidhu. He adds,The most important aspect in this Act is that it empowers the government to take stringent action against the persons and companies selling spurious seed. The Seed Act currently in place does not empower us to take strong action against such people.
The Act clearly formalises the constitution of seed committees,lays down parameters for seed companies to get registered and also states that a person or company selling,importing or dealing in any way in spurious seeds can be fined or imprisoned.
Ajmer Singh Lakhowal,president of Bharatiya Kisan Union,says,I am yet to make up my mind about this Act. But we all know that the problem of spurious seeds coming to Punjab is a major problem,which needs to be tackled with an iron fist. Keeping this in mind the punishment laid down in the Act is very less. Moreover,we have always demanded that any company wanting to sell seed to farmers should get a stamp of approval from institutions like the Punjab Agricultural University at the state level and a similar agricultural institute at the national level.
While crops like paddy and wheat do not stand to gain much from this Bill,yet Dr P.S. Rangi,consultant Punjab Farmers Commission,says,Crops like cotton,sunflower and maize will stand to gain. Spurious Bt cotton seed being sold to farmers is a common problem that we are facing and last year an entire block in Anandpur Sahib had to suffer due to spurious maize seed. Though this seed was purchased by Markfed,it did not germinate at all. Similarly,this year we are facing a shortage of sunflower seed due to which spurious seed has entered the market. To put a check on such practices,this Bill will be very helpful.
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