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Production and supply of quality seed
In heralding the Green Revolution, role of quality seed had been as crucial as the high yielding varieties. In the absence of a system for organized production and supply of quality seed, especially when the country had gone for rapid and extensive adoption of high yielding varieties, the high yield technology would not have made the kind of impact it has made. Realizing that very large volume of quality seed need of open pollinated crops like wheat and rice the government came up with a series of institutional mechanisms and seed quality regulatory measures for production and supply of quality seed. They included, establishment of the National Seeds Corporation in 1960, enactment of Seed Act – 1966 and Seed Rules- 1968, establishment of 15 State Seed Corporations, the launch of the World Bank supported National Seed Project in three phases in between 1975 and 1987 to strengthen the seed production system in the public sector, New Seed Policy – 1988 and the still to be legislated New Seed Bill. The measures enabled the country cope with the increasing seed demand, targeted seed replacement rate and meeting seed quality standards. The provision in the Seed Act – 1966 for voluntary certification and marketing of Truthfully Labelled Seed (TLS) has encouraged the private seed industry to come up in a big way with several new and productive varieties and hybrids while the New Seed Policy – 1988 enabled the seed industry to import seed in bulk of exotic varieties and hybrids and market for first two years with no need to pass through the variety testing system, but with conditions that so introduced germplasm should, however, comply with the testing requirements and production of seed of them be in the country after the period of privilege for continued marketing. Such liberalized policy environment has greatly helped the private seed industry to introduce rice hybrids from China and other countries. The volume of quality seed of rice produced each year has been 10-15% more than the actual requirement. For instance, as against the requirement of 56.0 lakh quintals in 2008-09, quality seed produced was 66.5 lakh quintals. With public sector institutions producing and supplying around 80% seed of rice varieties, private sector accounts for over 80% of production and supply of hybrid rice seed. Rice is one of the very few crops, wherein the seed replacement rate is more than double that of the stipulated 25 %. With hybrid technology slowly gaining momentum since the release of more acceptable hybrids, the seed requirement is bound to increase many folds by next few years. Given the strength and involvement of the private sector, meeting the growing seed requirement of hybrid rice would not be a challenging task.