Cabinet approves additional amendments to Seeds Bill

New Delhi, Oct 20 (IANS) The union cabinet Wednesday approved moving additional amendments to the Seeds Bill, 2004 to ensure availability of quality seeds to farmers.

‘The legislation will regulate the quality of seeds and planting materials to ensure availability of quality seeds to farmers; to protect the rights of farmers; curb the sale of spurious and poor quality seeds; increase private participation in seed production, distribution, and liberalise imports of seeds and planting materials,’ the agriculture ministry said in a statement.

The additional amendments also provide for nomination of chairpersons for Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Authority and National Bio-diversity Authority to the Central Seed Committee, submission of seed-related periodic returns to the state government and enhancement in penalties of offences.

Provisions of labelling, seed health, expected performance and compensation to farmers have been included to ensure public accountability.

‘The provisions will be implemented only after the bill becomes an act,’ the statement said.

The legislation is likely to be taken up during the upcoming winter session of parliament commencing Nov 9.

According to the agriculture ministry, the efficacy of other agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation is largely determined by the quality of seed. Seed quality accounts for 20-25 percent of productivity.

‘It is, therefore, important to ensure the quality of seed.’

‘A need has arisen for upgrading the seed quality regime by enacting a new legislation in view of emergence of new technologies; India’s integration at the international level through World Trade Organisation (WTO), and other international organisations/treaties and increasing scope of export/import of seeds and planting materials,’ the ministry said.

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