More than 1.5 lakh complaints have been raised by farmers across the state about germination failure of soyabean seeds in the last two months.
As many as 83 FIRs have been lodged against seed companies in this regard, which has rattled both the companies and farmers alike. Seed companies, however, said it could snowball into a major issue next year as many firms have decided to exit the soyabean seed sector in view of the criminal FIRs being filed.
Early sowing notwithstanding, soyabean growers across the state have started reporting germination failure on their field. A host of reasons, ranging from inferior quality of seeds, insufficient soil moisture to deep sowing, has resulted in failure of the oilseed to germinate on time. Estimates by the Soyabean Processors Association of India (SOPA) has said around 20-25 per cent of the seeds planted required resowing. The matter had taken a serious turn when a two-judge Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court had initiated a suo motu PIL in the matter. The Supreme Court, however, had put a stay on action in the matter.
Till date, 1.60 lakh complaints have been registered across the state in this regard, including 83 FIRs against seed companies for their alleged role in supplying spurious seeds.
Mahabeej, the state government’s seed corporation, has started the work of replacing both the seeds as well as giving monetary compensation to the farmers who had used their seed. So far, 988 quintals of seeds have been replaced by the corporation, which has also paid Rs 74.14 lakh as compensation.
Senior officers of the state agriculture department said that around 70 per cent of the complaints were due to inferior quality of seeds. Heavy rain during October last year had also severely affected soyabean crops. Being an open pollination variety (OPV), farmers and seed companies use the crop for seed production. Due to the heavy rain last year, higher moisture content in the seeds had had reduced the germination rate of the seeds from 70 to 60 per cent.
Meanwhile, FIRs against seed companies have rattled the industry, which is dominated by private players. Some seed firms said manufacturers from Madhya Pradesh have already opted out of manufacturing soyabean seed for the next season with many players in Maharashtra also deciding to follow suit.
Ajeet Mulay, chairman of Seed Industries Association of Maharashtra, said exit of private players would create a shortage of seeds for farmers.
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