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Seed of Success


The lack of awareness major factor for growers to look towards informal sector

The crop productivity in Pakistan is far below the true potential owing to a number of factors, including the lack of certified seeds usage. Affordability and the lack of awareness about the benefits of using quality inputs is the major reason for the growers to look towards the informal sector or using their own produce as seeds.

Though the share of certified seeds has increased considerably in the recent past due to the popularity of hybrid varieties for paddy and maize, it has yet to come closer to the satisfactory level.

As per the Pakistan Economic Survey 2020/21, the availability of certified seeds for different crops stands at 847,411 tonnes against the actual requirements of 1,736,161 tonnes. As such, more than half of the input needs are catered to by the informal sector or growers use their own produce for cultivation of the next crop.

As per the Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department, the availability of certified seeds for wheat is 647,684 tonnes; cotton, 43,525 tonnes; paddy, 71,595 tonnes; maize, 16,639 tonnes; pulses, 3,785 tonnes; oilseeds, 2,466 tonnes; vegetables, 6,751 tonnes; fodders, 42,614 tonnes; and potato 13,841 tonnes. Seed requirement for wheat, cotton, paddy, maize, pulses, oilseeds, vegetables, fodders and potato is 1,075,562 tonnes; 39,940 tonnes; 44,148 tonnes; 32,802 tonnes; 42,674 tonnes; 10,790 tonnes; 8,400. 61,140 tonnes; and 415,000 tonnes; respectively.

The lack of technology use and quality inputs is causing growers to get far less yield than the world average and actual potential of the country.


Punjab’s average wheat yield is 2,768kg/hectare, far below its actual potential of 9,687kg/hectare. Even progressive farmers are getting 4,942kg/hectare, which is far below than the world’s average yield of 8,995kg/hectare. The same is the case with other major crops such as cotton, sugarcane, rice and maize.

Punjab’s average yield of cotton, sugarcane, rice and maize is 2,135kg/hectare; 61,875; 4,690kg/hectare; and 6,138kg/hectare, respectively. Punjab’s actual potential of cotton, sugarcane, rice and maize yield is 6,919kg/hectare; 177,916kg/hectare; 9,884kg/hectare; and 11,861kg/hectare, respectively. The progressive farmers are getting 4,448kg/hectare cotton; 108,726kg/hectare; sugarcane, 8,599kg/hectare rice; and 7,907kg/hectare maize.

The world’s best average yield of cotton, sugarcane, rice and maize is 5,436kg/hectare; 123,157kg/hectare; 10,181kg/hectare; and 9,766kg/hectare, respectively, which is two to three times more than the average yield in Punjab. Even progressive farmers are not catching up with the world’s best yield for these major crops.

With the housing societies encroaching sowing areas at a fast pace, the only pragmatic approach can be taking measures for enhancing yield to feed an increasing population. Though there are a number of factors, still high yield quality seed is the most important one to ensure food security in the days to come.

As per the experts, the farmers could get more yield than the world’s best average by using quality inputs and adopting best farming practices.

They believe that the use of quality certified seeds can increase productivity and help overcome the challenges of food insecurity.


Talking to BOL News, Muhammad Asim, head of the CropLife Bio-Technology and Seed Committee said that the available agriculture land will be the same for the ever-increasing population.

“There is a need to enable the farmers to grow more on less land. The introduction of hybrid seeds has helped increase the yield of maize and rice in Pakistan,” he added. There was a need to give farmers access to innovative technologies for ensuring food security in the days to come.

“Unfortunately, the government has levied 17 per cent sales tax on seeds. It will also increase the price of seeds that will push growers to look for cheaper alternatives to reduce the input cost. The use of certified seeds is already alarmingly low, and as such, the scenario will not be good for the agriculture sector,” he said, adding that the seeds were the most important input, which should be brought in the reach of small landholders.

For Asim the share of hybrid varieties is 90 per cent in the certified seeds. The ratio of hybrid varieties is the same in the imported seeds. As such, the farmers using hybrid varieties will be the ultimate sufferers of the government decision of imposing sales tax, adding that the move would not only discourage the use of quality input but would also slow down the process of hybridisation in the country.

“The impact of tax will be huge on the already stressed agriculture sector. It will slow down the process of hybridisation, affect the crop yield and profitability of the growers,” he said, adding that the government should reconsider the decision for the sake of food security and giving the much-needed relief to the farmers.

About a possible way forward for controlling imports and encouraging the local seeds production, the IP protection was a major hurdle in the transfer of technology, he said.


“The government should devise a long-term policy aimed at encouraging the local production of seeds. The companies should be provided with an enabling atmosphere and tax relief on the import of machinery. Foolproof mechanism for IP protection will force companies to start local production,” Asim said.

Guard Agricultural Research and Services Chief Executive Officer and Pakistan Hi-tech Hybrid Seed Association (PHHSA) President Shahzad Ali Malik said that the manufacturers and importers will pass on the additional cost to the growers.

“As such, it will increase the input cost and endanger national food security. It will also hurt research and development efforts in the agriculture sector,” he added.

Per acre yield would drop, as growers would abandon certified seeds and turn towards informal sources for meeting their requirements, he said, adding that the decrease in the sale of certified seeds would also lead to a drop in the total tax collection.

For Malik, the government was advocating to adopt the Chinese model, which succeeded on the basis of cheap hybrid wheat, rice and cotton seeds. Taxing and; thus, dis-incentivising the seed industry was not a wise move.

He suggested the government at least exempt the local seed developers from the general sales tax (GST) to encourage transfer of hybrid seed technology. The introduction of hybrid varieties has increased the rice production from around 4.83 million tonnes to 8.14 million tonnes in a decade.


“Enhanced yield helped increase income and improve the quality of life in rural areas. The availability of additional quantities also helped increase exports,” he said, adding that the hybrid maize was another success story.


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