Traceability: A way to increase farmers’ income by ensuring access to high-quality seeds

Indian agricultural sector is considered as the backbone of our country. Two-third of our population is dependent on agriculture directly or indirectly. The sector is not merely a source of livelihood but it is the main source of food, fodder and fuel.

This is the only sector that contributed to the growth of not only itself but also of the other sector of the country as well which makes it a basic foundation of our economic development.

India is the leading producer of spices, fish, poultry, livestock, plantation crops and ranks as the world’s largest producer of milk, pulses and jute. It is the only sector that has led to the growth of not only of itself but of the country’s other sector as well.

Indian companies produce everything required as agricultural inputs, starting from seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation equipment to farm machinery and plant health technologies.

However, there are still several obstacles that need to be tackled to keep the country self-reliant in fulfilling its food needs and increase exports of agricultural produce, besides contributing to the Prime Minister’s mandate of doubling the farmers’ income and revamping agricultural economy by 2022.

One of the major obstacles that have come to the forefront from the past several months is the quality of seeds reaching to farmers.  A seed particularly has an important input into agriculture, which has a major responsibility for crop production and contribution of all other inputs are largely depends on the quality of seeds. It is estimated that the direct contribution of quality seed alone has a positive impact on overall production by approximately 15-20 percent.

Sub-standard seeds affect farming and impact livelihood of farmers. Over the past few years, farmers have reported that the poor quality of seed impacted their crops and their overall livelihood. This is despite the fact that India has approximately 135 seed testing laboratories and 25 seed certification authorities.

This hints at the bigger problem of counterfeiting of seeds, leading to low-quality of seeds reaching to market, and then to farmers. The problem calls for the immediate adoption of such a system that will prevent the counterfeiting of seeds and ensure only genuine and high-quality seeds reach to farmers.

The best way to enhance Indian agricultural sector is by introducing global standards of barcoding and effective end-to-end traceability system to ensure that Seed Corporations and the agricultural departments in the Centre and State governments can keep a check on supply chains and ensure that no infiltration is happening in between. This will result in high-quality seeds reaching to farmers.

With this objective, the government is developing a portal where information on seed could be captured digitally, including grower’s details, lot number, production data and seed testing laboratory codes.

This would help users (farmers and retailers selling seeds) decode it with the scan of a barcode to validate information on the seed packet. However, this solves the counterfeit issue just on the surface as most counterfeit products copy entire product labels, including barcodes, which will still pose validation problems.

To tackle that, we need to uniquely identify each unit that is being sold, so that we know that a product once sold, could not be sold again. This would act as an effective mechanism to detect and arrest counterfeits at the point of sale. GS1 global supply chain standards enable this and have proved effective in controlling counterfeits and enabling product authentication at point-of-sale.

Additionally, the adoption of global identification standards would help uniquely identify each seed packet. Also, its adoption enables compliance with global regulations, providing seed manufacturers with a competitive edge in the global market. And most importantly, this will increase farmers’ income by ensuring they have access to high-quality seeds. Traceability system help farmers in track, trace and identify seed’s origin such as from where the seed has arrived or been produced during the purchase of seeds.

Some other benefits of adoption of Global Traceability Standards include: 

  • Enhanced operational efficiency in distribution, transport and logistic processes
  • Ability to react faster to incident or crisis and more targeted recalls
  • Ability to authenticate the origin of seeds by capturing its supply chain journey
  • Detecting counterfeit
  • Increased transparency between business-to-business and business-to-consumer transactions, enabling trust

To avail the benefits of GS1 India’s Traceability service for a transparent supply chain process, visit us at https://support.gs1india.org/traceability-service-consultation

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