The increase in the share of private companies in India’s seed market has promoted use of these seeds. Hybrid seeds could threaten the country’s crop diversity and the hardy traditional varieties suited to grow in their native climate.
The origin of hybrids can be traced to India’s Green Revolution in the 1960s, when the government’s effort was primarily to increase agricultural productivity.
For this, the National Seed Corporation was set up to develop, store and distribute high yield variety seeds.
Till the 1980s, the public sector had a firm control on the seed market and supplied OPV seeds to farmers.
Towards the end of the decade, the government allowed development and distribution of hybrid varieties by private players.
This trend has continued, but poses a threat to the country’s crop diversity and the traditional varieties that are more suited to the local climates.
What are Hybrid seeds?
A hybrid is created by crossing two different varieties of the same plant.
Crossing involves taking the pollen from the male flower of one plant and transferring it to the female flower parts of a different plant.
Once the ovary of the female flower is pollinated, it will begin to swell and form a fruit. The seeds that develop inside that fruit are hybrid seeds.
Hybrid seeds are listed as F1 types, as opposed to open pollinated (OP) types.
Open pollinated seeds result from a simple sharing of pollen between two like parent plants.
Hybrid seeds have disease resistance and perform better in terms of more fruits, flowers and vegetables produced, more plants surviving disease and pests.
Issue with Hybrid seeds
Use of hybrid seeds can also damage diversity of crops over the years.
Production of new crop species through allopolyploidy following distant hybridization suffers from several problems, e.g., lower economic yields, poor agronomic characteristics, sterility etc.
It requires more technical skills for hybrid production. More input requirements for hybrid cultivation to exploit their full potential.
Some of the Hybrid seed varieties:
The five hybrid varieties of crop plants which have been developed in India are Wheat - Sonalika and Kalyan Sona, Rice - Jaya and Ratna and Cowpea - Pusa Komal.