Seeds / Agro / Biotechnology

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The agro industry is regarded as an extended arm of agriculture. The development of the agro industry can help stabilize and make agriculture more lucrative and create employment opportunities both at the production and marketing stages. The broad-based development of the agro-products industry will improve both the social and physical infrastructure of India. Since it would cause diversification and commercialization of agriculture, it will thus enhance the incomes of farmers and create food surpluses. The agro-industry mainly comprises of the post-harvest activities of processing and preserving agricultural products for intermediate or final consumption. It is a well-recognized fact across the world, particularly in the context of industrial development that the importance of agro-industries is relative to agriculture increases as economies develop. It should be emphasized that ‘food’ is not just produce. Food also encompasses a wide variety of processed products. It is in this sense that the agro-industry is an important and vital part of the manufacturing sector in developing countries and the means for building industrial capacities. The Indian seed industry used to be dominated by public sector seed companies. However, following the easing of government regulations and the implementation of a new seed policy in 1988, the private sector seed companies have started playing a major role in seed development and marketing. More recently, the government’s decision to embrace biotechnology as a means of achieving food security has attracted several leading biotechnology-focused multinational seed companies to India. The composition of the seed industry, by volume of turnover, has reportedly reached a ratio of 60:40 between the private and public sectors. The private sector has started to play a significant role in the seed industry over the last few years. At present, the number of companies engaged in seed production or seed trade is of the order of 400 or 500. However, the main focus of private seed companies has been on the high value low volume seeds and market for low value high volume seeds of cereals, pulses and oilseeds is still dominated by the public sector seed corporations. Private sector companies have a significant place mainly in the case of maize and sunflower and cotton. However, in the case of vegetable seeds and planting materials of horticultural crops, the private sector is the dominant player.