AP asserts its right on seed price, royalty payouts
K. V. Kurmanath
Hyderabad, March 25:
The Andhra Pradesh Government has reasserted its right on the pricing of seed and deciding the royalty component. In a first-of-its-kind bill in the country, the State Government has proposed to bring in key changes in the way seed business is carried out.
It also will get powers to withdraw or cancel permission for genetic technologies if they pose a danger to public security.
A copy of the bill has been put online for feedback from various stakeholders.
The Government plans to move the Bill in the Assembly in the next three weeks. While claiming the right for regulation of retail price of the seed and of the royalty component (the fee seed companies pay to firms such as Mahyco-Monsanto for using their genetic technology in cotton), the Government said it could review the price from time to time to consider increased cost of production.
The Bill calls for setting up of State Seed Committee to implement the Act.
Headed by a chairperson, it will have representatives from the farmers’ associations and the seed industry.
It will take a call on issues related to seed production, export and import of seeds, standards and seed registration.
The Act would make it mandatory that all firms register their varieties with the State Register of Seeds, indicating all specifications.
Farmers, however, are spared.
They need not enlist their backyard varieties. The local administration will do that for them.
However, it won’t allow registration of some varieties and genetic technologies to protect ‘public order’ and human, plant and animal life; or to avoid serious harm to the environment.
It also mandates that seed producers, seed processing units and horticulture nurseries to register themselves with the authority.
They are required to submit reports periodically on quality of the output. It also addresses a long-pending demand of seed growers – to honour the agreements with the seed companies.
So far, payments to growers are by and large arbitrary.
The Act comes out with an interesting clause on the performance of the seed.
All packets should indicate the expected performance of such seed under given conditions. Farmers can claim compensation if seeds fail to live up to the claim.