uality seed has played pivotal role in agricultural progress at national and international levels. Punjab farmers are known for their eagerness and one-upmanship, when it comes to acquiring seeds of new varieties. Recently, the seed sale of new Parmal rice varieties in the state had attracted attention of media. The understanding of issues involved requires knowledge of processes involved in varietal testing, release and initiation of seed chain, how the breeding and testing cycle of a new variety takes about 10-12 years. This is briefly described below:
• Two or more parental lines of a crop species, complementing the traits of each other are selected and crossed to produce their hybrid.
• The hybrids thus developed produce a large number of genetically diverse progenies which are advanced for 6-7 years under selection for desirable traits, and to stabilize the same.
• Thousands of such stabilized progenies are subjected to evaluation in small plots and a small percentage (1-5%) is chosen for further, more elaborate testing in following years. Such stabilized progenies are generally known as experimental varieties.
• The selected experimental varieties are tested in replicated trials, first at one location and thereafter short listed ones at multiple locations. These research station trials are carried out for atleast 3 years.
• The research station trials are also conducted at national level outside the state as part of ICAR- All India Coordinated Research Projects.
• The experimental varieties on the basis of performance in state and national trials are considered by the “Research Evaluation Committee” of the University and also discussed with Officers of Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Punjab during the annual Workshops for further testing in farmers’ field trials.
• The farmers’ field trials popularly known as “adaptive research trials” on the experimental varieties are coordinated by Directorate of Extension Education of the University and Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Punjab. In this evaluation done across the districts, the experimental varieties are grown under diverse regional situations and farmers practices, and the worth of the new experimental variety in comparison to the popular variety becomes clearer.
• The data from research and farmers field trials are considered for final decision by the “State Varietal Approval Committee” in the meeting generally chaired by the Director of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Punjab.
• The proposal of the variety is finally put up to the “Central Seed Sub-Committee” for notification and inclusion in the national gazette of crop varieties.
• Regular seed production chain of various classes of seed (Breeder/ Foundation/Certified Seed) starts thereafter, following prescribed norms including monitoring by National Seed Corporation and Punjab State Seed Certification Authority teams and adherence to various standards during production, processing and packaging of seed.
PAU VC ANNOUNCE FUTURE ACTION COURSE
During the process of testing and release of varieties, seed moves out of PAU or ICAR – All India Coordinated Research Project trials takes place outside the state and farmer field trials takes are conducted within the state. As farmer field trials fall within the purview of the PAU, it has been decided to take the following measures to check the misuse of the grain harvested from these trials.
• Reduction in plot size of the farmer field trials on rice from one kanal to four marlas.
• The Aadhaar card details will be collected by PAU and the State Department of Agriculture of the farmers chosen for conducting farmer field trials.
• An undertaking to be obtained from the farmers chosen for conduct of farmer field trials that he/she is neither in seed sale business nor will sell the produce as seed.
• No farmer field trials will be laid on the fields of seed growers.
• The seed of new varieties will be packed in small bags e.g. 2-4 kg.
• In case of new varieties, Aadhaar card number will also be noted on seed sale receipts by PAU to prevent multiple sale to the same buyer.
The Punjab government is fully alive to the situation. To plug all loopholes in seed production, a meeting was held under the chairmanship of Hon’ble Minister Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs in May month of 2020. In this meeting, a decision was taken that ‘Seed of new varieties will be produced by only PAU and ICAR in the first year of its release and the private dealers will be allowed thereafter’. This will go a long way in providing good quality seed at reasonable prices to the farmers.