While rice breeders at Punjab Agricultural University have advised farmers not to sow paddy varieties that are not approved by it,the state government,however,seems to disagree. In an advisory,PAU had suggested that paddy varieties HRK 47 and HRK 127 should not be planted,but the very same seeds are being sold over the counter by the state agriculture department and PUNSEED,an agency of the government that sells seeds.
The varieties lack the required level of productivity,have poor straw quality besides being susceptible to bacterial leaf blight disease,said G S Mangat,a rice breeder at PAU. Adding to this rice breeders J S Lore and P S Saraon said the seeds could play host to new diseases. There is a chance of introduction,development and spread of unknown pests and pathogens through the sowing of these unknown varieties, they said. The experts said the HKR 47 and HKR 127 were widely grown in Amritsar and Gurdaspur,while another unapproved seed variety,the Pusa-44,was grown by farmers in Sangrur,Patiala and Ludhiana.
Farmers had also faced problems during the previous paddy season,after procurement agencies refused to buy the harvest of these varieties. D S Guru Principal Secretary to the chief minister during his visit to Jagraon grain market last year had announced that the state government will set up a mechanism to check the sale of seeds that are not recommended by PAU but nothing has been done so far.
The state government,however,denies recommending seeds that are not approved by PAU.
PUNSEED is a commercial organisation so they can sell what they want. As far as the state department of agriculture is concerned we recommend only those varieties which are approved by PAU and released for North Zone by the Indian Council of Agricultural research in New Delhi, said Balwinder Singh Sidhu Director Agriculture Punjab.