India needs 250 Lac quintals of quality seed to have A successful Kharif 2020 and lockdown can cause more damage to Seed Industry – An Interview with Indra Shekhar Singh, Director of the policy and outreach
In an interview with News X Channel on March 29,2020 Indra Shekhar Singh, Director of the Policy and Outreach, NSAI have shared few words about the Indian Seed Industry situation due to Covid19 outbreak. Check it out.
Indra Shekhar Singh is with us, Director of the policy and outreach, National Seed Association of India. Thank you Indra Shekhar Singh for speaking with us. You know the big question of course that I have to ask you is how is this Covid19, the Corona Virus affecting the farm sector, the agriculture sector?
You know these are somber times as the pandemic is upon us. You know we see global powers such as China, European Union and now America come to a complete halt because of it. It’s you know, the FAO has already issued a warning saying that agriculture is already affected by this crisis.
Talking of India, now we have to first take in context that, Indian farmers were already affected by an untimely rain earlier this earlier this month. And in fact in areas near Delhi this rain has happened just days before the coronavirus crisis hit us okay. So, farmers were already reeling from damaged crops and crop losses. After that comes the big curfew. Now this curfew is responsible. Actually the coronavirus is responsible for a complete collapse of the agrarian ecosystem. We see that crops are still standing on the fields from Telangana to North India. That is mean of course people of harvested mustard, chana. But wheat still there is 10 days to go for that harvest finish off. Currently we also see that there is also a big drop in all distribution and procurement which is leading to massive losses all over the country. So agriculture as it stands today is come to a halt.
We see a complete collapse of the gradient system and this is all due to the coronavirus. And even more so I feel this is more so because of the fear that the coronavirus has created. Now the government has been very proactive. They’ve been you know, various state governments including for example: Telangana, they’ve been one of the first to issue directives to allow all seed manufacturers, farm inputs to be given a free hand and be exempted from this curfew. We’ve also seen states like the Uttar Pradesh, Haryana. And our honorable Union Minister for agriculture now Narendra Singh Tomar Ji who’s issued a very clear saying that “no farm input people will be harassed” this should be exempted including seed producers, machine providers, laborers so that the agrarian production or agriculture production in India does not come to a standstill. We’re also getting reports from for example: pineapple growers in Kerala, we’re getting reports from pepper growers, we’re doing reports from the tea estates, and we are going be getting reports from the tomato farmers that all over all sub sectors within the agrarian sector have experienced a big shock. And like I said, all links that are responsible for food production in India have been severed.
Okay then. I have to ask you, so you’re telling us of course that it is a difficult time. Very quickly you know I have to ask you then, what would be your appeal to government? There is still an economic package that is expected a stimulus plan from the government hopefully there will be something for the agriculture sector as well. Indra shekhar, what do you expect in it? What should be in it?
See, before I answer that question I’d like to also raise one very critical issue. See if we Indian farmers for the Kharif season need 250 lakh quintals of quality seed, if we want to have a successful kharif season. Now the question before the government is, how will you get the seed to the farmers? And that leads me to the solution. I think the immediate outlook of the government should be to ensure that the fear which is caused by coronavirus completely is curtailed. Okay, you know we’ve seen videos where farmers are being with, or not farmers but at least there are reports from people that farmers are being restricted to go to their fields. People who are driving machinery and tractors are being harassed. So the government should immediately step in and stop the harassment.
Absolutely. Because they’re part of that essential supply chain. Okay. Very quickly now or on your expectation in that package.
Okay. So we are first of all, there should be a major clause for the seed industry. I feel that seed industry which is right now in the critical time phase between March to May. All seed for the kharif season is prepared right now. So there should be something for the seed industry people.
Secondly there be some relief for the tenant farmers. Which are you know they are often overlooked. So the government should place special attention to them. Because they don’t have land, they don’t have resources, they are living a life which is based on credit. So the government should take extra care for them. And naturally the farmers should in the movie gee is already announced there will be some earlier installments to PM Kisan Yojana and the government will give reliefs. So overall if the three ends.
okay and the last point which I would like to say that, this should be a war like situation, a war like kind of effort should be made to ensure that all transportation should be active or if anybody or transport services should be should be given full steam. All the go heads all the signals and this should be transporting grain, seeds and other farm inputs to and fro from the farmers’ fields.
Okay well you know thank you for that you know for that synopsis of this situation as far as the agriculture sector is concerned.