Producer and supplier to be held accountable

Following faulty seed supply, government certain to miss paddy production target this year

Kathmandu, November 5

The government has made a U-turn from its earlier announcement that it will compensate farmers for the losses they had to bear for planting ‘Garima’ brand of paddy seeds, which resulted in low output.

“Actually the producer and distributor of the seed will be made to compensate the farmers for their losses,” informed Yubak Dhoj GC, secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD).

GC’s statement contradicts that of MoALD State Minister Ram Kumari Chaudhary, who had said the government was preparing to compensate the victim farmers while addressing a meeting of Agriculture, Cooperative and Natural Resources Committee of the Parliament last week.

According to GC, however, the Seed Act of 1988 has a provision that holds the producer and distributor accountable for the quality of seeds and states they would have to provide compensation in case the supplied seeds are not as per specifications.

Because of supply of problematic Garima paddy seeds this year, farmers across different districts, especially in Chitwan, have been witnessing extremely low production. Though it is the time to harvest the crop, farmers have been complaining that paddy plants are not yielding produce.

The MoALD’s preliminary investigation revealed that the producer and distributor of Garima paddy seeds had supplied fake hybrid seeds to farmers breaching the contract.

In 2016, the government had reached an agreement with Renova Seed Science India Pvt Ltd of Lucknow to supply the Garima seeds to Nepal. Similarly, domestic firm Sunrise Agriculture Research Centre Pvt Ltd (SARC) of Dang was authorised to import the seeds from the Indian company and supply them in the domestic market.

“However, the morphological and physiological tests of the Garima seeds supplied this year showed that it did not meet the agreed upon specifications,” informed GC.

MoALD has deployed a team led by officials of the National Seed Board to find out concrete reasons behind low production of paddy in different districts, areas where Garima seeds have been planted and the amount of losses that farmers have incurred.

“We will have the detailed report on losses due to Garima seeds within next two weeks. Thereafter we will recommend the Cabinet to get farmers compensated by the producer and the supplier of Garima seeds,” added GC.

This year’s paddy output is sure to be affected due to faulty seeds.

The government has set paddy production target of six million tonnes for the current fiscal year.

“It seems we will miss the production target set for this year,” acknowledged GC.

The country had recorded an alltime high paddy production of 5.6 million tonnes last fiscal.

Drop in paddy production will also affect country’s agriculture output this year as the cereal crop has more than 20 per cent contribution to the overall agriculture output of the country.

Similarly, drop in agriculture output is also expected to hit the entire economy, as the agriculture sector has 28.5 per cent stake in the country’s gross domestic product value.