Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Drought: Store seeds for future needs, farm scientists tell farmers

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Aug 17: Agricultural scientists have warned of a severe shortage
of quality seeds for next season in view of persistent drought conditions all
over the country.

They suggest that farmers maintain a bank of good quality seeds in
sufficiently large quantities for use in the next rabi and khariff seasons.

With the threat of drought looming large over 177 districts including a dozen
in Andhra Pradesh, agricultural scientists warn of an impending ill impact on
the lives of poor farmers.

This year, half the cropping season has already gone by without rains in large
parts of Andhra Pradesh, and traditional crops raised under normal growing
conditions, have a little chance to be sown at this stage.

"Besides causing concern for food, nutritional security and livelihood
activities, the consequences of this severe drought are going to be felt for
long on agriculture itself", says Dr William Dar, Director-General of

Dr SN Nigam, principal groundnut scientist, added "this situation will negate
all the gains made through popularising improved groundnut varieties and
providing their quality seed to farmers. We will be back to where we started
when very old local varieties were dominating cultivation."

To rebuild the quality seed stock in required quantities for future cropping
seasons will take a couple of years. As a consequence of poor rains in the
current kharif season, underground and other water resources will be
depleted, and the future of the ensuing rabi season crop becomes uncertain. It
is therefore crucial that the seed currently available with farmers is saved for
the next kharif season.

Government intervention at this critical stage can help to arrest this situation,
which will otherwise have a long-term effect on rainfed agriculture. Before
the seed is sold as commercial commodity by farmers in desperation, the
Government should arrange to buy this seed from the farmers by opening
stalls at the mandal and district levels, they said.

According to ICRISAT scientists, the seed can be stored in various
Government facilities under safe storage conditions and be made available to
the farmers in the next cropping season. This will ensure that the gains made
through research and development in rainfed agriculture are not lost due to
vagaries of the weather.

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