Proposed seeds law must balance
interests of farmers, breeders (The Hindu)
Mains Paper 2: Polity
Prelims level: The Seeds Bill 2004
Mains level: Requirement of Seed legislation in India
The Seeds Bill, 2004, had sought to modify a 38-year-old law, and
incentivise private participation in the seed industry at a time when the
returns of the Green Revolution had begun to palpably diminish in the 1990s.
Some of the provisions were contested by a Parliamentary Standing
Committee, whose recommendations were accepted by the Centre, the moves were
not enacted into law.
It is surprising that the 2004 draft has been revived and put in the
public domain for comments, disregarding some of the recommendations of the
The revised draft has been criticised on three grounds:
the paltry compensation, which cannot act as a deterrent for sale of
not providing for a redressal mechanism within the seeds law and instead
forcing farmers to move the Consumer Protection Act (COPRA); and finally,
not proposing any form of price regulation.
The prices are best left to market forces and a regulatory regime that
encourages the availability of quality seeds will sort out this issue.
The House panel is right in arguing that farmers would find it harder to
seek recourse under COPRA.
The suggestion that compensation panels be set up within this law to
deal with the issue has unfortunately been disregarded.
Penalties for malpractices should be stiff, as the implications of crop
failure owing to quality issues can be serious.
This can be brought under crop insurance, as has been contemplated
Requirement of Seed legislation in India
Seed legislation in India should be in consonance with the Protection of
Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act 2001, which allows a farmer to sow,
exchange and sell his seeds so long as he does not brand or put them into a
The distinction between a farmer and a breeder should be unambiguously
spelt out, so that the inspector raj does not prevail, one of the key
problems with the 1966 law.
For the preservation of genetic diversity, it is important that both
farmers and breeders are not subjected to overt policing.
However, there should be no let-up in the stringency of the registration
process, which commits the producers to performance parameters.
There is, however, no need to confuse the debate over GM crops with this
law, as the regulatory apparatus for GM vests with the Genetic Engineering
Action Committee under the Ministry of Environment.
However, it is not clear how the issue of regulating imported seeds will
be dealt with under the proposed dispensation.
In all, the Centre should take a non-partisan view of such a critical
subject, while enacting a law that is fair to all stakeholders and farmers in
Q.1) With reference to the Chhath Pooja, consider the following
statements: 1. The festival is observed over a period of four days and it is a
2. The festival is observed most elaborately in Karnataka.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Q.1) What are the crucial roles can played by keeping quality seeds to help in
doubling farm incomes?