Use of quality seeds could contribute to a substantial increase in yield and farmers should focus on increasing yield through the use of quality and certified seeds, observed speakers at a seminar on seeds jointly organised by the Department of Seed Certification, Agricultural Technology Management Agency and the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) in the City on Wednesday.

Inaugurating the seminar, T. Soundiah, Collector, observed that though agriculture was a major occupation and a large area was cultivated in the country, the yield was largely poor in most crops owing to the unscientific methods of cultivation, over or indiscriminate use of water, fertiliser or pesticide.

The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method of cultivation in rice, which was gradually catching up with farmers, not only contributed for a substantial increase in yield, but also helped bring down the water, fertiliser and pesticide requirement. Currently about 22,000 hectares have been covered under SRI in Tiruchi district. The technology also helped farmers overcome the vagaries of Nature, he observed, and pointed out that farmers in Natarajapuram, a badly affected area during the floods in November 2008, have managed to record a yield of three tonnes, an acre in paddy this year though the top soil of the fields was completely washed away in the flood.

He appealed to the farmers to go in for quality seeds and verify the quality while purchasing the seeds, especially at private outlets.

The Joint Director of Agriculture, N. Ponnusamy said the total paddy seed requirement for the annual coverage of about 73,500 hectares in the district was about 2,604 tonnes. About 549 tonnes were supplied through the Agriculture Department and 944 tonnes by private outlets and 150 tonnes by the cooperative department this year. Use of quality seeds can contribute for a 20 per cent increase in yield, he said.

In millets and pulses, a major portion of the seed requirement was met by the farmers themselves and the quality of them could not be ascertained. Steps were being taken to assess and improve the quality of the pulses seeds through the creation of seed villages this year. The Agriculture Department would provide the required inputs and expertise to the farmers for setting up the seed villages. This would help improve the quality of seeds used by the farmers.

Rama Jayampandian, Joint Registrar, Cooperatives Department, said the department had embarked, for the first time, into selling seeds this year and had sold 150 tonnes of paddy seeds and about 1.50 tonnes of millet seeds this year. For, it was felt that one of the reasons for the farmers’ inability to repay loans was the poor yield due to the use of poor quality seeds. By supplying quality seeds, the department was hoping that farmers would be able to achieve better yields and repay their loan dues promptly.

Earlier, Mr. Soundiah released a handbook and compact disc on the seed certification process and A. Karmugilan, Director, Seed Certification, Coimbatore, received the first copies.

R. Brinda, Special Officer, District Central Cooperative Bank, R. Rajasekaran, Deputy Director, Seed Inspection, and others spoke.