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Seed Certification in India

Seed Certification

Seed Certification in India

Seed Certification is a process designed to maintain quality of seeds during seed production, post-harvest operation and distribution of seeds. Through this seed certification, seeds intended for domestic and international markets are controlled and inspected by the certification agency in order to ensure high seed quality for consumers. In this article, we look at Seed Certification in detail.

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Objectives of Seed Certification

The seed certification would help in accomplishing the following three primary objectives:

  • To identify new varieties and their rapid growth under appropriate and generally accepted names.
  • To maintain and make available high-quality seeds and propagating materials of notified kind and varieties to the farmers.
  • To ensure the acceptable standards of seed viability, vigour, purity and seed health.

History of Seed Certification in India

  • The field assessment of the seed crop and its certification was started with the establishment of National Seeds Corporation as per the provisions under the Indian Seed Act, 1966. A legal status was given to seed certification with the formulation of Seed Rules, 1968.
  • The Seed Act, 1966 provided the required impetus for the establishment of official Seed Certification Agencies within the states.
  • The Maharashtra Government was the first to establish an official Seed Certification Agency under the Agriculture Department, whereas Karnataka was the first state to create the Seed Certification Agency as a self-governing body.
  • At present, nearly 22 States in the country have respective Seed Certification Agencies established under the Seed Act.
  • In India, seed certification is optional, and labelling is compulsory.

Eligibility Criteria for Seed Certification

The seed varieties which are specified under Section 5 of the Seeds Act, are eligible for seed certification. Any seed variety to become eligible for seed certification should meet the following conditions:

General Specifications 

    • Should be a notified variety under Section 5 of the Indian Seed Act.
    • Should be in the production chain and its pedigree must be identifiable.

Field standards 

    • Should possess minimum field standards which include the selection of site, isolation requirements, spacing, planting ratio, border rows etc.

Specific requirements 

    • Presence of off-types in seed crop, pollen-shedders in Sorghum, Bajra, Sunflower etc., Shedding tassels in maize crosses, the disease affected plants, objectionable weed plants should be within the permissible levels while applying for seed certification.

Seed standards 

Maximum seed certification standards are required for each crop.

Concerned Authority

As per the provisions under Section 8 of the Seeds Act, 1966, the seed certification will be performed by the Certification Agency.

Steps involved in Seed Certification

The following are the steps involved in seed certification explained in detail.

Evaluation of the origin

Step 1: The source seed verification is the first level process in the Seed Certification Programme. Unless the seed is from an approved source and designated class, the certification agency will not permit the seed field for certification, thereby ensuring the use of high quality will recommend the seed for sowing crops.

Field Inspection

Step 2: Field inspection is the evaluation of the crop in the field for varietal purity, isolation of seed crop to prevent out-cross, disease dissemination and also ensure crop condition about the presence of objectionable weed plants and designated diseases etc.

Sample inspection

Step 3: Through laboratory tests, the value of the seeds for planting will be assessed. Then the certification agency holds samples from the seeds provided under certification programme and allows them to undergo germination and other purity tests required for conforming to varietal purity.

Bulk Inspection

Step 4: Under certification programme provision has been made for bulk inspection. Hence, the evaluation to check homogeneity of the bulk seed produced as compared with the standard sample is carried out.

Control plot testing

Step 5: The samples were drawn from the source and final seed produced are allowed to grow along with the standard samples of the variety. By comparing the above two, the results can be determined whether the varietal purity and health of the seed produced are equal to the results on field inspection.

Grow-out test

Step 6: Evaluation of the seeds for their genuineness to species or varieties or any seed got infected is identified. Here the samples drawn from the fields are grown along with the regular checks. Growing plants are observed for varietal purity. This grow-out test helps in the elimination of the sub-standard seed lots.

Phases of Seed Certification

The seed certification is carried out in six broad phases are listed below:

  • Receipt and inspection of the application.
  • Verification of seed source, class and other specification of the seed utilised for increasing the seed crop.
  • Inspection of the crop seed in the field to check its conformity to the designated field standards.
  • Supervision at post-harvest stages, which includes packing and processing.
  • Drawing of samples to verify conformity to the seed standards.
  • Issuance of the certificate, grant of certification tags, labelling, sealing etc.

Grant of Certificate by Certificate Agency

According to Section 9 and 10 of the Seeds Act, any person selling, keeping for sale, offering to sell, bartering or supplying any seed is eligible to have seed certification. The person can approach the certifying agency with the prescribed application form by remitting the specified fee for the grant of seed certificate. On receipt of such application, the certification agency will verify that the seed conforms to the minimum limits of germination and purity as notified under section 6 will issue the seed certificate within the specified time limit.

Validity of the Seed Certificate

The validity period of seed certificate will be for nine months from the date of the test at the time of initial certification. The validity period can be extended further for six months provided on retesting seed to the prescribed standards in respect of germination, physical purity and insect damage for all seeds except vegetatively propagating material. In such cases, the field has to be re-examined for seed standards specified for the respective crop.

Note: A seed lot will be eligible for an extension of the validity period when it conforms to the specified requirements.