‘Big players promoting mechanical transplanting of rice’

“Farmers are not opting for seeds anymore. The tray seedling system is now being thrust on them by foreign companies that offer to take care of the crop from sowing to harvest,” Vice-Chancellor of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University K. Ramasamy said here on Monday.

Speaking at the second annual seed workshop at TNAU, he voiced concern about the total control the foreign seed companies exercised – from sowing to harvesting - on the Indian farmer.

Mr. Ramasamy said that the issue today was not about seed availability or productivity, but the control that Indians were allowing the multinational companies to wield, by forsaking technology for money.

Focus

He urged plant breeders and seed producers to focus on these lines, and asked university researchers to strengthen their research focus.

“Experts fail to focus on seed priming. This is very important as it ensures 100 per cent germination. If you fail to do seed priming, foreign agencies will take over,” he said.

M. Ramasami, Managing Director, Rasi Seeds, talking about the scope for improving seed quality, stressed the need for focus on limited varieties.

“Though the area under rice in Tamil Nadu has stagnated over the last decade at 20 lakh hectares, the production increased from 52 lakh tones to 62 lakh tonnes in the last six years. There has been no significant improvement in the area under hybrid rice. It is sad that the State has been importing seeds from other parts of the country. The quality and genetic purity of these seeds is becoming a question,” he said.

Urging university officials to produce breeder seeds, Mr. Ramasami said big players were promoting mechanical transplanting of rice.

“Seed requirement will fall drastically when mechanical planting takes over. Hence, there will be no requirement to increase seed production on a large scale,” he added.

Nearly 75 participants, including policy makers, scientists, extension workers, and farmers, attended the workshop.

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