ISLAMABAD: Punjab Seed Corporation (PSC) was ranked 22nd on the Access to Seeds Index, issued by the Thailand-based ‘East West Seed’ after evaluating 24 leading seed companies in South and Southeast Asia.
The first-ever index for South and Southeast Asia evaluated leading seed companies in the region with comprehensive strategies and clear targets for tackling food and nutrition security to support growth productivity of smallholder farmers — one of the main targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to the index, companies at the bottom of the ranking generally score low due to a lack of disclosures over their ambition and activities.
Pakistan, an agri-based economy, is not listed among the region’s seed hubs. On the other hand, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Bangladesh have evolved in to seed hubs, based on the concentration of production, breeding and processing activities by indexed companies in these countries.
The PSC markets a broad portfolio of field crop varieties as well as some vegetable varieties through extensive distribution channels in Punjab, as reflected in a moderate score in marketing and sales.
However, according to the findings, the PSC does not have a comprehensive breeding programme, resulting in relatively weaker performance in research and development, and it has no related positions in Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources.
Additionally, the corporation also lacks corporate oversight and capacity building activities to benefit smallholder farmers.
The PSC states that one of its ‘chartered functions’ is to provide advisory services to farmers. However, the company has failed to provide details on how it fulfills the said objective.
The report also highlights that 22 index companies have a presence in Pakistan adding that the country has a significant local seed industry.
The enactment of the ‘Plant Breeders’ Rights Act 2016’ is seen as encouragement for seed companies to invest in research and development. Moreover, 10 companies indicate having testing locations in Pakistan, while other elements of the seed value chain, from breeding programmes and seed production to seed processing and extension services, offer significant potential.
According to the index report, GM Bt Cotton is increasingly being adopted in Pakistan with nearly 725,000 smallholder cotton farmers planting the variety in 2017.
Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2018