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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Maharashtra govt warns firms against substandard seed supply, price hike

The government has also warned of stern action if companies sold substandard seeds or hoarded them to raise the demand and prices.

Written by Shubhangi Khapre | Mumbai |
Updated: March 27, 2021 8:57:18 pm
Amid sustained demand, gram prices recover marginallyFarmers had sown gram in more than eight lakh hectares in Rabi season 2020-21 and the state government estimates the total production to be around 13 lakh metric tonnes. (Representational Image)

THE MAHARASHTRA government has asked seed companies not to hike prices to supply quality soybeans and other seeds in the coming khariff season to farmers. The government has also warned of stern action if companies sold substandard seeds or hoarded them to raise the demand and prices.

Taking lessons from last year when farmers suffered a huge setback due to fake seeds, the government has initiated a new monitoring mechanism to watch the supply and demand chain. It also wants to ensure that there is adequate manpower to take swift action against companies indulging in malpractices.

Agriculture Minister Dadasaheb Bhuse said, “The pre-khariff season plan is in place. I have directed the department, district authorities and agriculture centres not to compromise on the quality of seeds. The farmers’ right cannot be negotiated with. Citing higher standards, some companies may try to increase the prices. We will not allow that.”

The bulk of seeds supply is done through Maharashtra State Seed Corporation Limited (MSSCL), National Seed Corporation and private companies. Last year, MSSCL was found to be supplying substandard seeds, which landed the state in major embarrassment.

Officially, 50,000 farmers submitted written complaints to the agriculture ministry about the fake seeds and huge financial loss. As the seeds failed to germinate, farmers had to go for second sowing. It incurred additional expenses towards fresh seed stock and fertilisers.

An officer of the agriculture department said, “Any company, individual or group, found to be selling fake seeds, would be subjected to harsh punishment, including imprisonment and fine.”

The area under cultivation during this year’s khariff season is estimated at 141.94 lakh hectares. The main crops are soybean, jowar, bajra, cotton, moong, udat, tur and maize. The state requires 16.67 lakh quintal seeds, which are supplied through state-owned Mahabeej, National Seed Corporation and private companies to farmers.

The area under main crop soybean cultivation is 42 lakh hectares, which will need 31.66 lakh quintal seeds. The state has urged the Centre to provide two lakh metric tonne urea. The government will also maintain a 1.5-lakh metric tonne buffer stock to avoid any shortage.

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