Call to formalise Indo-Bangla seed trades

Dhaka,  Sun,  24 September 2017
Published : 16 May 2017, 22:17:04

Call to formalise Indo-Bangla seed trades

Experts stress following strict quarantine rules
FE Report

Formalising cross-border seed trade will benefit both Bangladesh and India significantly by ensuring bio-safety in the region, said experts Tuesday.

They also said minimising informal trades would help millions of farmers have more access to better quality seeds at a cheaper price.

The observations came at a discussion on "Understanding the Dynamics of Cross Border Informal Trade of Agricultural Inputs between India and Bangladesh," organised by Unnayan Shamannay, a local non-government group, in the city.

Former chairman of Bangladesh Krishi Bank Khandker Ibrahim Khaled presided over the meeting, chaired by former agriculture secretary Anwar Faruqe.

Arnab Ganguly, CUTS International, India's assistant policy analyst, and Abdullah Nadvi, senior research associate of Unnayan Shamannay, presented the keynote, which revealed that Bangladeshi rice seed varieties Brridhan 28, 29 and Br-11 have a great demand in India.

Indian farmers make additional Tk 50 at per maund (40 kgs) by cultivating Bangladeshi BR-11 instead of Indian varieties.

This trend is encouraging farmers to conduct informal trades, said Mr Ganguli while presenting a paper on the usage of Bangladeshi agro inputs by Indian farmers.

He said that the informal trade helps develop socio-economic condition of Indian farmers, considering food security, sanitation and so on.

But the informal trade has a risk of adulteration and price deprivation as middlemen are grabbing a major share.

His study showed that a kg BR-11 seed was sold at Tk 35 at the Bangladesh farmers' level, which is reaching Indian farmers at Tk 60-Tk 65 a kg.

Mr Nadvi said Indian Swarna rice and Rocky tomato varieties were popular in Rajshahi, Rangpur and Dinajpur regions.

He said that in Aman, Swarna variety was now almost major considering other local varieties as it takes lesser time and gives higher production.

The total seed trade of Swarna is done through informal chain where adulteration is happening and productivity is decreasing.

The biosafety issue should get top priority as farmers would be the ultimate loser if a crop collapses, the paper recommended.

It also recommended increasing border haats and formalising the trade, which could ensure better seeds at cheaper rates.

CUTS International also advocated giving formal recognition to cross-border popular seed varieties by the relevant state agencies of both countries.

Anwar Faruque said India has formally released Bangladeshi rice varieties BINA-8, 10, 12 and 14 and the country should also think releasing Indian Swarna and other seeds suitable for cropping pattern.

He said rice was still a notified crop (seed varieties only released by state research agencies), so the total imports and trading of Swarna or other rice varieties of India were going on illegal way.

He said Bangladesh could follow the jute seed as an example as it was also a notified crop a decade back but later the government permitted imports of jute seed in legal way.

"The formal import of jute seeds has helped greatly minimise seed adulteration and raise productivity," he said.

Managing Director of Supreme Seed AHM Humayun Kabir said policy change was the most important to make the business formal.

 ACI Head of Business Sudhir Chandra Nath put special emphasis on exports and imports of seeds considering the cropping pattern of both the countries.

Chief scientific officer of Regional Wheat Research Center (Rajshahi) Md Ilius Hossain recommended following strict quarantine rules and regulation to stop illegal imports of Indian seeds as deadly weeds like parthenium was entering the country through such trade.

Acting research director at the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) Mohammad Mahfuz Kabir and director of BIMSTEC Secretariat in Dhaka S M Nazmul Islam, among others, spoke.
Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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