Experts highlighted the need to provide certified seeds to farmers and simplify the variety certification process for the development of the agricultural sector in Pakistan.
They told WealthPK that 62% of farmers’ seed needs are met by the country’s informal sector. In the absence of government control, much of the seed supplied to farmers informally is of poor quality. As a result, farmers find it difficult to increase the yield of their crops.
Sources said informality in the sector was the result of an outdated legal and administrative structure. Most breeders choose to market their new varieties in the informal sector, rather than submit them to the Federal Department of Seed Certification and Registration.
They said serious players with a strong market presence, as well as runaway companies looking to make a quick buck, were focusing on the informal sector. New types of seed are easily identifiable by their breeder and are frequently marketed under corporate labels.
Dr Shakira, chief scientist at the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council, said private seed suppliers oppose Pakistan’s outdated regulatory system. She said licensing of seed producers, various release procedures, access to public germplasm, quality control, intellectual property rights and import and export were governed by laws. and regulations enacted decades ago for a system dominated by public sector companies.
“With 3,513 full-time researchers, Pakistan has one of the largest agricultural research systems among developing countries,” she said. Most of them work for government-funded research agencies, which are responsible for the conservation of germplasm, the import of exotic material from other countries for local adoption, the production of cultivars and the staff training.
Dr. Shakria said that federal institutions, provincial institutes and agricultural universities are the three major public sector entities in Pakistan. She said 782 seed companies, including five multinationals and four state-owned companies, were operating in Pakistan. Punjab has 644 seed companies, the highest number in the country, followed by Sindh with 96, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 25, Balochistan with five and Gilgit-Baltistan with three companies.
She said the National Seed Council recently issued “Fruit Plant Certification Rules” to improve the quality of nursery plants. She said the regulations would be amended to provide legal assistance to people in developing the infrastructure needed to produce and distribute high-quality disease-free fruit trees.