In this article we will discuss about the four major problems faced by the seed industry in India. The problems are: 1. Distribution Problems 2. Lack of Effective Monitoring Mechanism 3. Lack of Infrastructure 4. Poor Extension Services.
Problem # 1. Distribution Problems:
i. Short Shelf Life of the Seeds:
Normally, certified seeds are valid for one season only and they have to be revalidated for use in the next season. The retailers are not equipped to store the seeds for one whole year.
ii. Unpredictability of the Demand:
It is very difficult for the dealers (private or co-operative) to exactly predict the demand of certified seeds owing to the unpredictability of Nature, changes in the commodity prices and other reasons.
Problem # 2. Lack of Effective Monitoring Mechanism:
There is no effective monitoring mechanism for controlling the quality of seeds at the selling points. The dealers even sell those seeds whose samples have failed in the laboratory tests by SSCs. The producing and marketing agencies of seed do not have any control on their production once the product is sold. This is mainly because the monitoring of selling of seeds is neither possible nor economical.
Problem # 3. Lack of Infrastructure:
Availability of seeds in time still remains a problem for the farmers. The problem is compounded by poor infrastructure in distant villages, the lack of purchasing power at the time of sowing and the uncertainty of rainfall, on which the sowing is largely dependent.
Problem # 4. Poor Extension Services:
The various extension services offered by the Agriculture department leave much to be desired in terms of effectiveness of the programmes offered by them, for popularising the modern agricultural practices, which includes improved seeds practices.
Agricultural supervisors generally are seen active only for showing their targets that are fulfilled, by distributing the mini kits and conducting field demonstrations rather than emphasising on the result oriented approach. The popularisation of a variety in a prolonged period has reasons other than the slow activity of the extension network like the performance of the crop and availability of the seed variety.
i. Product Differentiation and Brand Image:
A firm, which has to establish itself in the seed market in India, needs to differentiate its product either in terms of better yield or in terms of providing accessory benefits like pest resistance. Though product differentiation is very difficult in seed industry, some private companies have been innovative and proactive like Mahyco.
They developed a variety of pearl millet which is not only high yielding, but it is also resistant to the disease which no other company has been able to offer. Since seeds are prone to fast deterioration, it becomes essential to ensure seeds in the first season itself.
The firm should try to minimise the carryover stocks and maximise the sales. Seed is a product where there is hardly any product differentiation possible. Therefore, promoting company’s brand name becomes important rather than promoting the product. So, brand image of the company should be the focus in sales management.
To adjust the imbalances in the demand and supply during the season, the firm should continuously monitor variables like weather till the sowing season is over, so as to avoid additional cost and efforts in cross transportation. In short, an efficient information system should be developed which helps to organise production better and market it efficiently. Perhaps, the Seed Association of India or any such organisation can take up this responsibility.
iii. Seed Replacement Rate:
Increase in SRR will surely increase the demand for certified seeds and it will also lead to increase in the productivity of different crops. Thus, alleviating the problems faced by the farmers in using certified seeds may help to improve the consumption of certified seeds.
To enhance the seed replacement rate, both the public sector and private companies should develop and produce seeds which are not only high yielding varieties, but also require replacement every year. This would encourage the farmers to replace seeds every year and thus increase SRR.
To increase the SRR, a firm has to concentrate on evolving newer hybrids which could increase the yield and require 100 per cent replacement or should come up with newer varieties of self-pollinated and cross-pollinated crops, that would make the farmer to go for newer seed varieties the next year, to utilise the newer benefit it offers, rather than using the same variety for next sowing season which they can do without any significant change in the yield.
iv. Promotional Activities:
Normally, the SSCs and private firms opt for a blending of both pull and push promotion strategy. They intend to generate the demand from the farmers, for their seed only through pull strategy. By the push effort, each company channelizes its product through the dealers to the farmers.
A mixture of this two-prong strategy will yield the best result. Demonstration is one of the cost-effective tools of reaching the farmers. Demonstration has the electrifying effect on the farmers not only for the new varieties, but also for the existing varieties. Moreover it brings out the true picture of the attributes of the seed and thus increases the credibility of the particular variety and of the company.