Seed quality plays a crucial role in the production of agronomic and horticultural crops. Seeds variety, germination percentage, purity, vigor and appearance are very important for the farmers to increase the quantity and quality of their crops production. Every professional seed producer targets to produce high quality seeds for the welfare of farming community. Quality seed acts as the catalyst for realizing the potential of all other inputs in agriculture.
The remarkable achievements in agriculture in the 60s and 70s were the result of a combination of inputs like introduction of high yielding varieties, increased fertilizers use, increase of irrigation facilities, improved farm practices, strenuous extension efforts etc. However, the growth of agricultural sector has not kept pace with the growing population. The imperative of National food security, nutritional security and economic development demand a much focused approach to raise production and productivity in the agricultural sector to mitigate the food requirement for the increasing population. It is difficult to increase the area under agriculture so stress should be given on raising the crops productivity per unit area in a stipulated time. Substantial increase in production and quality of crops depends upon agro-inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, irrigation and plant protection measures and suitable agronomic practices. High quality seed plays a pivotal role in the crop production. The use of poor quality seeds nullifies the utility of all agronomic practices and every other input applied to the crop. Economically, the cost of seed is a very small component of the total cost of crop production. A good quality seed have high genetic purity, physical purity, physiological quality and health quality. It is difficult to increase the crops production through traditional seeds. So with traditional seeds, new varieties seed should also be introduced so that crops production can be increased.
Seed is the critical input in the agricultural sector on which the performance and efficacy of other inputs depends. Quality seed of sufficient quantity are required for the farmers at affordable prices in different agro-climatic conditions to increase the production and productivity of different crops. Use of quality seeds is not a onetime affair. It is a continuous process and new and improved varieties of different crops are regularly required by the farmers. In order to achieve the food production targets, a major thrust should be given on quality seed production. The Indian seed industry has shown a buoyant growth with a great support to the farmers. Many farmers are now stressing on the intensive agriculture to mitigate the growing demand for the agricultural produce. India is bestowed with varied agro-climatic conditions. So varied varieties of seeds are required in different zones of the nation. After the release of the varieties, seed multiplication is the most essential and pre-requisite activity for ensuring the continuous availability of quality seeds of improved varieties to farmers at affordable prices.
Seed should be pure, free from other impurities and should fit within minimum seed standards. The maintenance of high quality seed of a variety is referred to as 'Maintenance breeding', where a breeder maintains the seed purity of a released variety when it undergoes production year after year. Presently Indian seed production system is a robust route to mitigate the seed requirement of the country. The seed class involves Nucleus, Breeder, Foundation and Certified seed with different seed quality standards at different levels. The quality seed is the prime requisite for grain production, which alone contributes about 30% of yield improvement. Seed traits such as seed dormancy, viability, priming etc. are being given importance to improve the cultivars for seed traits. It is important to deliver a healthy and improved variety of seeds to mitigate the seed requirement of the country. The Indian seed delivery system which is backed by both formal and informal seed system has a good structural network for sufficient availability of seed but the seed replacement rate and the varietal replacement rate are under desirable limit.
Seed is the highest prioritized input in agriculture, on which agricultural sector sustains. It has been observed that good quality seeds can contribute upto 30% increase in productivity. A good quality seed should be pure, full and uniform in size, free from weeds, insect, disease and other inert matters and more over it should have more than 80% germination. Timely availability of good quality seed as per the requirement plays a major role in the higher grain production of a nation. Many small and marginal farmers lag behind in agriculture due to lack of availability of resources or inputs including seed. In order to accelerate the agricultural production system there is need of strong and vibrant seed production for food security of the nation. There is need to focus on the seed quality, accessibility and availability. Indian seed production and supply system involves both Government and private sectors. A huge institutional framework is working for quality seed production and its distribution across the nation. Many high-yielding/hybrid varieties of different crops have been released by the different institutions for commercial cultivation. The constraints involved in seed production and distribution are as (i) seed purchase from unreliable sources (ii) deterioration of seed quality when multiplied for long duration (iii) lack of availability of quality seeds (iv) Lack of awareness/trainings for method of seed production, (iv)long time for seed quality testing etc. More research is required for quality seed production. There is also need to bring together the seed scientists, state govt. officials, policy makers, extension workers, seed industry leaders and farmers to increase the production of quality seeds.
Author is Presently Working in the Agriculture Production Department, Kashmir, J&K.