Disinvestment Most Absurd

(Dr. krishan Bir Chaudhary)

And now it is the turn of Seed, the most vital and basic input of agricultural production. It is very much in the line to fall victim to the onslaughts of disinvestment. What the country will gain in the run? Nothing except miserable dependence on the MNCs for costly and unreliable seeds. Disinvestment of the seed sector of the country for all reasons is not a good strategy.

Should we need to remind the NDA Govt. at the centre of it’s own National Seeds Policy-2002? What the Govt is contemplating now by way of disinvestment of Govt. owned seed sector is a glaring contradiction of its own Seed Policy announced in the previous year.

The Central Govt. perhaps lacks the honesty to agree to the unalterable truth that agriculture is the mainstay of Indian economy. Green revolution in India reached it’s Zenith - a great transition from the days of PL-480 when India was dependent on massive imports of food grains to feed the millions but now we are well ahead of many in food grains production. How the mission has been made possible is a million dollar question.

The most vital component of Green Revolution was good quality and high yielding seeds. Well  coordinated efforts on the part of country’s Research and Development wings in close collaboration with the State Farms Corporation of India.

and the National Seeds Corporation did the wonder in achieving self-sufficiency in food grains. Evidently, the NDA Govt. has no policy strategy, no action plan, no willingness and has run short of ideas to vitalise the S.F.C.I. and the N.S.C. and analyse the reasons for their down slide in performance. Disinvestment is not the solution.

It will only sow the seeds of discord. What our farm people are expected to do with their farmland if their access to good quality, cost effective and reliable seeds is blocked? The message is clear. Disinvestment is nothing but a prelude for the control by MNCs of our seed trade resulting in escalation in cost but with no accountability in case of crop failures. What sort of solution is this if the dearth of good quality and cheap seeds renders Indian agriculture incompetent not only in overseas markets but domestic market as well.

The faulty policy as regards the edible oil is very much manifest in the plight of oil seed sector in the country. The young Rajiv Gandhi, sensibly committed like Nehrujee and Indirajee towards the prosperity of the country through agriculture, realised the importance of good quality seeds in enhancing production. This prompted him to launch India’s first Technology Mission on Oil Seeds in the year 1986.

The Technology Mission on Oil Seeds effectively played it’s role and the production of oil Seeds increased from 11 million tonnes to 25 million  tonnes  within a span of ten years, attaining near self sufficiency. And what a pathetic down slide now? The indifferent policy of the Central Govt. has forced the country to import 40% of its total demand of edible oil.

Our present day rulers and planners can be well advised to track back the importance of good quality and high yielding seeds production in the country when the great Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, our first Prime Minister despite having overbearing westernised orientation and outlook still identified himself with the vast masses of Indian peasantry, their problems and needs which culminated in the establishment of India’s first fully mechanised farm at Suratgarh (Rajasthan) to meet the growing demand of good quality seeds.

In technical collaboration with the then USSR Govt., the great task to reclaim 35 thousand acres of barren sandy track in close proximity to Indo-Pak border and its ultimate transformation into a world class mechanised farm for seeds production was essentially the outcome of the personalised keen interest and involvement of Panditjee.

Indirajee who immortalised herself by becoming synonymous with green revolution and remained deeply embedded to the interest of Indian peasantry, carried forward the legacy of Panditjee. Her commitment to the growth and development of agriculture and transforming agriculture as a rewarding occupation induced her to ensure production and unhindered flow of cost effective and good quality seeds to the farm people. S.F.C.I. established in the year 1969 owes its existence to the priority allotted to seed production in the country by Indirajee.

As an entity, the S.F.C.I. played a vital and complimentary role in making Green Revolution in India a real success story. This giant seeds production undertaking is engaged in the massive task of production of breeder, foundation, certified and test stock seeds of a wide range of crop varieties in large seed production farms located in diverse. climatic zones of the country, the total land spread being around one lac acres.

The S.F.C.I. is an ambitious gift of Indirajee to the Nation which revolutionised agricultural production in India through its contribution of cost effective, high yielding and good quality seeds.   The futuristic outlook and seed policy of Indirajee are major contributors to manifold increase in food grains production in the country, providing food to our 110 crores people. 

India could achieve so much on the food front because of a sensible and competent leadership like Panditjee and Indirajee and because they were committed to the people, committed to safeguard the dignity of the Nation and never allowed India to act at the dictates of Superpowers and transnational corporations.

The lurking danger of disinvestment of the giant public sector seed production units like the S.F.C.I. or for that matter the N.S.C.should be seen in the light of an imminent battle for bread being thrust upon us by M.N.Cs by way of monopolising the entire seed trade in the country. Apprehensive of the reversal of National Seeds Policy by the NDA Govt.

I made fervent appeal to the Prime Minister two years back to revitalise the largest public sector seeds production undertaking, the S.F.C.I., Disinvestment is no mascot or talisman, not at all compatible with ground realities and conditionalities of Indian agriculture. Such wayward measures will only pave way for self-destruction and prove counter-productive. We shall have to be on guard against the seize of the seed.



(Editorial : Farmers' Forum Magazine)