Explained: Sowing a new Seeds regime

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News:Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare has finalized the draft Seed Bill 2019 and is expected to table it in the ongoing winter session of Parliament

Facts:

About the Draft Seeds Bill,2019:

  • The Draft Seeds Bill aims to regulate the quality of seeds sold and facilitate the production and supply of these seeds to farmers. 
  • It also aims to foster competition by amending the Seed Act,1966 and Seed Rules, 1968.

Key Features of the Bill:

  • Seed Committee: The Bill authorises the Central government to reconstitute a Central Seed Committee that will be responsible for the effective implementation of its provisions.
  • Registration of Seed Varieties:The bill provides for compulsory registration of any kind or variety of seeds that are sought to be sold. The bill says that no seed of any kind shall for the purpose of sowing or planting by any person be sold unless such kind or variety is registered.
  • Research-based Companies: The bill differentiates between the seed producer, seed processor and seed dealer for the purpose of licensing. However, there is no recognition of National Level Integrated Seed Companies with R&D capabilities.
  • Truthfully labelled seeds:Currently, a large percentage of seed is sold under a self-certification programme called Truthfully Labelled (TL) seeds.The certification process has been kept voluntary.
  • Nurseries:There is provision of licences/registration of fruit nurseries. Not all nurseries need to be registered.
  • Price Control: The Bill empowers the government to fix prices of selected varieties in case of ‘emergent’ situations such as seed shortage, abnormal increase in price, monopolistic pricing, profiteering, etc. which are open to subjective interpretation.
  • Complaints:The bill provides for the Consumer Protection Act,1986 to be used to deal with complaints related to the non-performance of seed.
  • Penal Provisions: Bill differentiates the agronomic performance of the seed, its physical quality and the supply of spurious seed, and consequently penalises the offences and prescribes punishment.
  • Exemptions:The bill exempt farmers from obtaining registration for varieties developed by them.However,if the farmer sells such seeds for a monetary consideration, then that sale needs to be registered.This is to protect the interests of other farmers who buy seeds from such a farmer.