1.4 Billion & Counting: India’s seed industry calls for action on food security

1.4 Billion & Counting: India’s seed industry calls for action on food security

New Delhi: India with its agroclimatic and crop diversity as well as immense investment in the development of agriculture and related competence can demonstrate exemplary leadership in addressing the growing challenge of feeding nutritious food to a burgeoning population. India can avail of this opportunity through decisive policy interventions, increased R&D, and a blueprint for public-private collaborations. On the eve of World Population Day, the Seed Industry expressed its immense faith in the government’s ability to ensure food security for all and affirmed its strong support for the government’s efforts in this endeavour.

Ajai Rana, Chairman, Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) emphasises the role of high-yielding, disease-resistant crop varieties in increasing food output. Rana says, “Limited access to quality breeding infrastructure and a complex regulatory environment stifle the development and commercialisation of new seed varieties. Additionally, educating farmers about the benefits of using high-quality seeds and providing extension support is crucial for wider adoption.”

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The United Nations projects a staggering 9.7 billion people on Earth by 2050, putting immense pressure on food production systems. Achieving the ambitious UN Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by then seems like a herculean task. India, despite being a major agricultural producer, faces its own unique challenges. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports highlight significant imports of pulses and edible oils, indicating a gap between domestic production and consumption. This is compounded by stringent and slow regulatory processes that hinder innovation and hamper efforts to boost productivity.

The seed industry urges the government to prioritise seed research and create a supportive ecosystem for the industry. Rana, who is also the Asia-Pacific Head & CEO of Savannah Seeds said, “Increased focus and funding for deployment of innovative technologies in agriculture, especially seed can accelerate the development of climate-resilient, resource-efficient, high-yielding seed varieties. Streamlining regulations and promoting new technologies in seeds and farms are also seen as vital steps.”

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To combat climate change and ensure sustainable food security for the growing population, Public-private partnerships (PPPs) can be a powerful tool. Rajvir Rathi, Vice Chairman, FSII said, “PPPs can leverage the expertise of the private sector in research and development, while the government can provide funding and streamline regulations. PPPs could focus on developing climate-resilient crop varieties specifically suited to different regions of India. This collaborative approach can accelerate innovation and bring new seed varieties to market faster.”

By working together, the government, seed companies, and agricultural extension services can develop targeted outreach programmes to educate farmers about the benefits of high-quality seeds and best practices for cultivation. This knowledge transfer is essential for ensuring that farmers adopt these new seeds effectively and maximise their yields.

The key to bridging the gap between the growing population and food production capacity lies in innovative technology adoption and collaborations. By prioritising seed research, encouraging innovation through public-private partnerships, and empowering farmers with knowledge, India can take decisive steps towards securing its food security and contributing meaningfully to the global fight against hunger.

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