Seed developers and traders forecast a steady outlook for the year 2021 for the local seed industry worth Rs135 billion provided the climatic conditions remain favourable. However, they see rising seed prices as one of the major issues to be faced during the year.

Pakistan Seed Association Chairman Chaudhry Asif Ali blames the government’s decision for the likely price hike. He says that the former Punjab agriculture secretary had decided to auction the seed varieties of various crops developed by public sector research institutes to raise funds for scientists though other stakeholders opposed ‘taxing’ the farming community for the research work against the global trend of subsidising the sector. “A couple of varieties had been auctioned last year and many more are set to go under the hammer this year, further raising the growers’ cost of production,” he said.

Despite the failure of cotton, wheat and maize crops last season, he sees no shortage of their seeds for the next sowing, claiming 97 per cent, 87pc, 81pc and 60pc seeds of cotton, wheat, paddy and maize crops respectively are being produced locally. Negating the impression that the output of the white lint dropped due to poor seed quality, he argues that the same seeds gave up to the mark yield in Balochistan and elsewhere for the weather was not erratic there. Humidity and the resultant rising pest attacks, due to increasing sugarcane acreage, added to cotton crop issues in Punjab, he says.

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, January 4th, 2021

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