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LAHORE: The Ministry of National Food Security & Research (MNFS&R) is contemplating to delegate powers of seed inspection to the provincial governments instead of the Federal Seed Certification & Registration Department. Preparation of summary is in the process to move it forward to the Cabinet for approval of delegation of powers of Seed Inspector to the provincial governments' agriculture extension department, said an office memorandum issued by the MNFS&R recently.

Opposing the move, the Seed Association of Pakistan (SAP) has requested the Ministry to let the powers remain with the federal government as it will complicate the process of monitoring as the companies have to deal separately with seed inspectors in all the provinces instead of with one federal department.

SAP Chairman Chaudhry Asif Ali while talking to Business Recorder here on Saturday claimed that seed certification and inspection is a federal subject in the whole world and the same was being done under the 1976's Federal Seed Act, which was amended in the year 2015. He said that even in the amended act, all the four provinces agreed that the seed should remain the federal subject as it is not only prepared within the country but also imported from abroad.

He said that 88 percent of the wheat seed is prepared in Punjab while Sindh contributes 10 percent and the rest of the two provinces have only two per cent share in it. He feared that shifting the seed enforcement powers to the provinces may lead to different standards in all the provinces thus making the smooth working of the seed companies complicated.

Asif said the extension department's staffs are also not trained for seed monitoring. He said that the extension department was formed to disseminate technology to the growers and to guide them at the sowing time and take them through different phases of crop to get a good per acre yield. He alleged that the extension department had left that spirit behind and first they took the powers of pesticide inspectors, then of fertilizers and now working to take the powers of enforcement of seed.

The SAP Chairman said that they also held an internal meeting representing both the local and multinational seed companies and all are of the consensus that it should remain to be a federal subject. 'We also met the Governor Punjab and got assurance that nothing will be done without the consultation of the stakeholders,' he added.

Meanwhile, sources in the Federal Seed Certification & Registration Department on contact also expressed their reservation on this move. They said that they have 37 trained seed inspectors and they knew the whole process of seed development and production. They knew which research institute or company is working on what type of variety. They said that they had also recorded their reservation on this move.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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