Seed is very important in term of survival of plant species, further propagation and for food purpose. It plays an important role in the import and export of any country.
Moreover, they are the best source of protein starch, vitamins and minerals. Most of the legumes and cereal crop seeds are used as food all over the world.
Seed is the basic requirement of agriculture. Seed is defined in three ways: Botanically, it is ripened ovule. Physiologically, seed is a miniature plant (embryo) having food reserve (endosperm) and outer covering which is called testa or seed coat.
Agronomically, any plant or plant part which can be used for further propagation is called seed e.g. sets of sugarcane. There are two types of seeds, monocot and dicots. Monocots are the seed which contain only one cotyledon, cotyledon is the part of embryo that lies in the seed of a plant. Dicots are those which contain two cotyledons.
Pakistan, being an agriculture country still facing seed shortage. Farmers are unable to get quality seed at the time of sowing. Public and private sectors that produce seed throughout the country are operating in Punjab (552), Sindh (71), KPK (19), Baluchistan (7) and Gilgit-Biltistan (2).
Along with, some multinational companies are also working but unfortunately due to mismanagement seed supply is less. Multinational seed companies are Monsanto Pakistan agri. Tech. (Lahore), Pioneer Pakistan seed (Lahore), Syngenta Pakistan seeds (Lahore), Bayer crop science Pakistan (Karachi) and ICI Pakistan (agro chemical & seeds) (Lahore).
In Asia world top seed producing companies are 24 among which 21 is existing in Pakistan, but only two companies have a breeding station and production plants.
Availability of quality seed, timely supply and low price is the key towards successful production of crop. But due to some factors farmers are facing problem regarding seed which is leading to lowering the yield. Some of the factors to seed producing sectors are,
Seed Production Units:
There is less number of production units in Pakistan as per demand. In addition, only two have their own breeding and production system, rest of have not. Lack of research, breeding and genetics techniques and limited resources is the key factor in failure of seed producing sector.
Low yielding cultivars:
Commonly seed produce by the multinational seed company having a higher yielding cultivar as compared to the seed produce by local production unit.
For example, maize hybrid of pioneer company cultivated all over the country rather than hybrid produce by the Public or local production unit of Pakistan. Seed yield of Pakistani production unit is less as compared to the international.
Low seed yield and higher input price is another issue for seed sector. Poor farmers are unable to access the seed at higher price. In this way, most of farmer used their own seed (produced in the farmer field or local seed).
Although, seed market are present in all over the country but most of them are in big cities. Furthermore, some of these markets are not easily approachable to the farmer.
Another problem regarded seed market is the dealer is cheating with farmers. Seed dealer purchased seed from different local seed producing companies and sell on higher price.
Mixing of seed:
Adulteration is a chronic disease for any business. Unfortunately, mixing of seed (high yield with lower yield), (old seed and new seed) is very common practice in Pakistan.
Lack of seed storage:
Less availability of seed storage is big issue for seed producing sector. They have very limited storage house having a capacity of only one season seed. Some seed storage is available at rent but they have higher expenditure. For example, seed storage or cold storage for potatoes.
Law enforcement for seed laws is very poor. There is no proper check and balance for seed sale and purchase. Big dealers/ seed mafia start storing the seed just before the season of crop. When there is shortage of seed in market they start supply at high price.
Due to poverty, illiteracy and poor performance of seeds in the field farmer don’t believe on seed companies. They have their own faith; they prefer their own seed rather than seed purchased on high price.
Lack of field demonstration plots:
Most of the companies produce seed on their own farm, harvest seed and packed for market. There is no such a demonstration plot for farmer.
Seed production can be enhanced by increase in the number of production units all over the country. The genetic potential of existing seed can be increased through breeding techniques. We should reliable on our local produced seed instead of international companies.
In this way we save a huge amount which we spent for the import of seed. There is keen need to improve the seed market infrastructure, controlling seed prices and prevent seed from mixing.
Furthermore, by the provision of seed storage facilities to the industries, in this way they can produce and store more seed for long period. Seed laws should be improved and applicable.
To convincing the farmer for local seed, field trial should be done at farmer field. Keeping in view the above discussion seed production can be increased and it will be a fruitful effort for Pakistan to save a huge amount of seed import.
Authors; Muhammad Abrar, Haroon Zaman Khan, Muhammad Atif Shabir, Ali Mehmood Lakhvi, Ahmad Mukhtar, Muhammad Asad, Samee ullah, Areena Kiran and Sadia Altaf.