- Supply of quality seeds is less than one fourth of demand
- State-owned BADC's growth in seed production is 3.78% in 11 years
- BADC officials say their workforce is 46% less than needed
- BADC supplies 11.50% of total seed demand
- 203 of 218 hybrid Boro variety is registered by private sector
- Over 95% hybrid seeds come from private sector
The supply of quality seed, which plays a vital role in better yields in farming, is below one fourth of the total demand.
A number of private organisations are coming forth with producing quality seeds, while the state-owned Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC) is lagging way behind.
The BADC has seen a growth of only 3.78% in quality seed production in the past 11 years.
According to agriculture ministry and BADC sources, yearly demand of seeds for the production of various crops is nearly 13 lakh tonnes. This demand is met with seeds of three categories – formal, semi-formal and informal.
Supply of seeds under the formal category is 23%, which is regularly tested for quality control before it reaches farmers through BADC and the private sector. Although there is a massive demand for good quality seeds, there has been no significant growth in its production in the past five years.
Seeds under the semi-formal category account for 39% of supply. Although some testing is done for seeds of this category, these mostly remain outside supervision. Suppliers of semi-formal seeds are mainly the private sector and the farmers themselves.
The remaining 38% come from the informal sector. Farmers from around the country store these seeds from their produced crops and sell some of them. There is no initiative by the government to control the quality of these seeds.
For his part, BADC Member Director Md Mostafizur Rahman said, "Seed production is gradually increasing despite many limitations. Our workforce is 46% less than what we need and we are doing more than our ability."
However, according to agriculture ministry sources, the BADC in the past 11 years managed to increase 3.78% of seed production. In the 2020-21 fiscal year, it produced 1,49,502 tonnes of seed, which in the 2010-11 fiscal was 1,44,065 tonnes. In between, production was high in some years while it was low in others.
The BADC supply accounts for only 11.50% of the total demand, which people associated with the industry think should be higher. BADC supply includes seeds of Aush, Amon and Boro paddy varieties, wheat, corn, potato, pulses, oil, jute, vegetables and spices. Of all the seeds, BADC focuses the most on producing seeds of paddy.
Dr Md Akhtar Hossain Khan, chief agronomist of the seed wing of the agriculture ministry, told The Business Standard, "We are focusing on quality seeds. We are working on taking the level of production to 25% by the year 2030."
On the other hand, in the production of vegetable seeds, the private company Lal Teer is leading with a yearly production of 1,000 tonnes, whereas BADC produces only 115 tonnes.
The private sector is also ahead in promoting hybrid seed varieties. During the Boro season, farmers use nearly 18,000 tonnes of hybrid seeds, of which BADC has supplied 1360 tonnes. The rest of the supply came from the private sector.
According to data from private companies, 203 of the 218 hybrid Boro varieties are registered by the private sector.
ACI Managing Director and CEO Dr F H Ansari said, "The private sector is supplying over 95% of hybrid seeds. It is doing more research on quality seed production and is ahead for obvious reasons."
Among the seed supplier companies, Lal Teer, Brac, Supreme Seed, ACI, Petrocom, Aftab Bahumukhi, Ispahani Agro, Mollika Seed and National Agricare are doing well, according to Bangladesh Seed Association data. Besides, multinational companies CropScience and Syngenta are producing seeds as well.