Multi-nationals control 20pc of local seed market

. Nurul Huda
Private sector’s share  in  the country’s  seed market  mainly controlled by local firms of multinationals is steadily growing  and now stands at more  than 20 per cent with an annual turn over of Tk 10,00 crore  last year. Experts in the filed voiced concerns and said   this switching trend to external source of seed supply might affect seed security of the country in future  by making  farmers  more and more dependent on imported seeds.
Bangladesh Seed Association (BSA) president Md Fazlur Rahman Malik said contribution of the private sector to seed market has increased to  20 per cent  this year  , which was about 11 per cent six years ago.
Vegetable seed market is entirely dominated by the private seed businesses and the sector has moved ahead   to occupy a major share of cereal seeds.
Farmers are now totally dependent on private sector for vegetable seeds both of hybrid and inbreed varieties, he said.The private sector’s  share of rice seed is also increasing as the sector is now contributing nearly 18 per cent out of the 0.214 million tonnes
of annual demand.Hybrid covers 7000 tonnes,   which is 88 per cent of the national demand,  BSA president said.
Rice seeds’ major share is coming from the state-run Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC), which is 46 per cent of the total demand, according to an official of  the ministry of agriculture (MoA).According to the BSA, the private sector is dominating  the market  of maize seed—7000-8000 tonnes and 15 per cent of potato seeds out of the 0.6 million tonnes of national demand. Syngenta and Brac are leading the maize seed business, the  source said.
The Multinational ‘Syngenta’, pioneer in the country’s crop protection is mainly focusing on cereal seeds.”Our annual sale of maize seed (hybrid variety MK-40) was 200 tonnes five years back,  which was 1600  tons last year,  BSA source said.
Dr. Shariful Islam of Getco Agro  said the government should keep watch so that private business can’t  establish full control  over the country’s  seed business. There is however, he said, little scope to do so as the market is  quite large. Defending switching over to HYV seeds, he said, it was essential to feed the country’s growing population.
M. Masum, chairman of  Supreme Seed Company Ltd, pioneer in the country’s seed business, said his company is focusing on hybrid rice, vegetable, potato, cotton and maize. He said  about 15 large  companies are in seed business  in the country. The past practice of seed preservation and storage, he said, is on decline as the farmers are now becoming dependent on market instead of  making their own storage of seeds.
The company is contributing  about  45 per cent share  of the total hybrid rice market which is  2500 to 3000 tonnes. The company , he said, is also working with hybrid wheat.
An official of ACI Seed, a sister concern of the ACI Ltd said the company is now thinking of  marketing  different  kinds of seeds including cereal and vegetable. He said ACI is now contributing 280 tonnes of vegetable seeds, mostly inbreed.
ACI is also marketing 650 tonnes of hybrid rice seed styled ACI-1, ACI-2, Razkumar, Shampad etc during Boro season. The company, he said,  has started delivering foundation seeds of 1600 tonnes of local high yielding rice varieties (HYV) that include Brri-28, Brri-29, Bina-8, BR-16 etc. According to BSA, more than 50 per cent of seed provided by the private businesses are import- dependent.
“Farmers deprived of lucrative price, are losing their interest in producing a particular crop which is a great constraint to promote new modern seed varieties,” BSA president Rahman said.
He said the government has to adopt an appropriate market mechanism  so that  fair price of seeds and farm  products is ensured which is needed for the steady growth of overall agro-economy.  He said import dependent of seeds  will make the local cropping system totally external dependent which we can find in the vegetable farming as the farmers almost lost all the local seed varieties of vegetable.
“The contribution of imported seed in rice production in the country is not noteable. The companies have to promote farmers- friendly sustainable seed,” another source  said.
Considering private seed business, he said the companies should have to be self- sufficient in developing seeds locally to ensure sustainable seed security in the country directly linked to food safety.  According to MoA, the country’s total seed demand is more than  1.087 million tonnes  which  include rice, wheat, potato, maize, oilseed, pulse, jute and vegetable. The private sector is yet to begin its  business of pulse, oil and jute seed.

Source: The New Nation

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