Inundated with lakhs of complaints of soyabean seed failure this year, the state Agriculture department has started advising farmers to preserve a part of their produce so that it can be used as seed for next season. Since soyabean is an open-pollinated variety plant, farmers can collect and reuse it as seeds for the next season’s crop. This practice also helps farmers reduce their cultivation costs significantly.
Farmers normally require 100 kg (1 quintal) of seeds for sowing over one hectare (2.5 acres).
The Agriculture department has recommended that farmers identify the best of their crop and re-use them as seeds for three continuous years, before buying new ones. Prior to sowing, the seeds should be treated to avoid germination failure.
This season, early sowing had failed to help soyabean farmers as nearly 20 per cent of them had reported germination failure, due to factors such as inadequate soil moisture and inferior quality of seeds.
The state government had received complaints from a whopping 1.8 lakh farmers, and subsequently, 83 FIRs were filed against seed companies. As many as 11 companies lost their licence over poor quality of seeds.
The strict action against seed companies had prompted many of them to cease their operations in the state. As nearly 70 per cent of the seed market is serviced by the private sector, this had raised concerns about whether adequate amount of seeds will be available for the next season.
To address such concerns and prevent mass germination failure, the state Agriculture department is now trying to persuade farmers to preserve their seeds for reuse in the next season.
Taluka and village-level agriculture officers have started visiting fields and helping farmers take proper steps to identify and preserve seeds. Farmers who want to reuse their seeds are trained on how to identify the best plants for doing the same. “All they have to do is to ensure the humidity level in the seeds is controlled and the seeds are treated before they are stored,” said an Osmanabad-based officer of the Agriculture department.
Before the harvest, farmers are advised to mix fungicides and ensure slow threshing to avoid damage to the seeds. The seeds are put in jute bags and kept on an elevated platform to prevent seepage of moisture