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Firms fleece farmers with spurious seeds

Firms fleece farmers with spurious seeds
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Firms fleece farmers with spurious seeds. The seed companies have once again hoodwinked the officials of the Agriculture Department and managed to soft-sell low quality seeds to farmers. This has led to farmers going through sowing operation thrice with the poor quality seeds failing to flower.

TAKing cotton growers FOR A RIDE

Companies accused of hoodwinking the agriculture department and selling poor quality seeds to farmers

Hyderabad: The seed companies have once again hoodwinked the officials of the Agriculture Department and managed to soft-sell low quality seeds to farmers. This has led to farmers going through sowing operation thrice with the poor quality seeds failing to flower.

According to officials of the Agriculture Department, permission had been given to seed companies to supply 1.25 crore packets of seeds. Raja Rathnam, Assistant Director, Agriculture Department said, “99 lakh packets were positioned and 82 lakh packets were sold.” However, field studies showed that more than two crore packets were already sold till the third week of August.

The total area under cotton cultivation in kharif this year is 17 lakh hectares in Telangana State which translates into 43.75 lakh acres. “Even if farmers have sown twice, not less than 82 lakh packets could have been sold. It is more than twice the number,” said Kiran Kumar Vissa, State Committee Member Rythu Swarajya Vedika.

Concurring with the view, Dr G V Ramanjaneyulu, executive director, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture said, “The cotton seeds comes under the Essential Commodities Act. The Telangana State government did not give the number of seed packets sold last year. As per field studies conducted earlier this month, not less than two crore seed packets were sold.”

AP Rythu Sangham and other farmer activist groups that conducted field surveys in Medak, Nalgonda, Mahbubnagar and other districts show that some farmers even had to go through motion of sowing five times. For instance, Rajaiah, 63, of Timapur village, Jagdevpur mandal in Medak was forced to sow seeds five times as seeds did not germinate.

He said, “I spent Rs 25,000 on seeds, fertilisers and pesticides. With no sight of rain, we are heading for a crop loss second time in a row.” A seed packet of 450 grams costs Rs 920 and two packets are recommended per acre. Seed companies now get into oral contracts with farmers. The companies pay the farmer Rs 390 for 750 grams and repackage the seeds and sell the seeds for Rs 920 for 450 grams.

Seed companies such as Mahyco Monsanto, Bayer, Raasi and others have literally captured the market through patents and the farmers have no other option but to buy from them. Malla Reddy, social activist said, “Farmers are always at the receiving end but the seed companies always make profits. By getting into oral agreements with farmers, the farmers cannot take the legal course.”

By T P Venu

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