Mar 04, 2009

Sindh: Acute Shortage of Paddy Seeds

Active ImageAfter excessive winter rains damaged a large number of rice paddies Sindh could face an acute shortage of paddy seeds.
Below is an article published by: The International News

With excessive winter rains having damaged a large number of rice paddies, it has been learnt that Sindh looks set to face an acute shortage of paddy seeds in the upcoming crop season.

“Sindh needs at least 50,000 tonnes of paddy seed this year [2009], but growers have hardly 10 per cent of that,” said Sindh Abadgar Board President Abdul Majeed Nizamani.

Sindh produces around 2.4 million tonnes of rice every year and exports 1.4 million tonnes out of that. Approximately, two million acres are sown with International Rice Research Institute-6 (Irri-6) rice in the province, out of which 75 per cent, or 1.5 million acres, is sown in the districts of Larkana, Qambar-Shahdadkot, Shikarpur, Jacobabad and Kashmore in upper Sindh.

Owing to a lack of certified seed in the market, a majority of growers save their own seed for the next season. Nizamani told The News that usually around 35 per cent of the seeds on the farm are certified, but rains have reduced the amount available. Despite not getting a support price from the Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Supplies Corporation, growers have no other way of earning a living apart from growing rice.

“Our lands are saline and waterlogged,” said Anwar Khan Pathan, a rice grower from Lakhi, Shikarpur. “We have no other option.”

Pathan added that growers have no contact with the Sindh Seed Corporation, and they save their own seeds or buy from other growers. “Certified seed is not easily available,” he confirmed.

Sindh Abadgar Board Senior Vice President Gada Hussain Mahesar has requested the government to supply growers with 35,000 tonnes of certified paddy seed in the upcoming crop season. Additionally, in a letter to authorities, Mahesar has alleged that the Sindh Seed Corporation, which is under the control of a local influential person, is corrupt.

“It is a matter of great concern that irrelevant and incapable persons have been appointed top officials of the corporation without having any experience in agriculture,” said Mahesar. “The same policy is applied to research institutes. As a result, we have no certified seed of any variety, nor have our research institutes produced anything better. All their funds are misused.”

The view that rice-growing research institutes are performing below par has been echoed by other growers and experts.

“The performance of the rice development institute at Dokri is not satisfactory,” stated Nizamani. Growers, however, concede that research institutes in Tando Jam and Sakrand are in a relatively better position.