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Mandatory registration of seed processing units, dealers: higher fines for substandard sale proposed

ISLAMABAD (August 01 2007): The government is making registration of private sector companies, seed dealers and seed processing units mandatory, to settle legal disputes, and enhance penalties on sale of substandard seed, official sources told Business Recorder.

These measures would be taken through amendments in the `ineffective` Seed Act 1976, to be placed before the Cabinet in its meeting on Wednesday. The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock (Minfal) is of the view that the existing Seed Act is unable to meet the changing scenario of the emerging seed industry and the requirements of private sector.

Moreover, the definitions given in the Act are not compatible with the advancement in the field of seed technology and trade. The penalties given in the Seed Act are not deterrent to curb the sale of substandard seed in the market, which is one of the reasons to propose amendments in the Act, sources said.

Minfal, after detailed consultations with the stakeholder, has proposed following amendments in the Seed Act, 1976.

a) Renaming the department to meet legal proceedings in the court and addition of more compatible definitions of various terms.

b) Registration of private sector companies, seed dealers and seed processing units to settle the arising legal disputes.

c) Access to pre-basic seed to the private sector, provision for which did not exist before.

d) Training of private seed sector personnel, especially to work under WTO regime.

e) Enhancement of penalties/fines for effective seed enforcement.

f) Promotion of research in seed science and technology to strengthen seed industry and the research-based regulatory mechanism.

g) Restriction on sale of unapproved/banned varieties and effectively control various cheating practices through the provision of misbranding clause.

h) Establishment of accredited seed testing laboratories in public as well as in private sector.

i) Registration of plant variety and horticulture nurseries; and

j) Establishment of federal seed and variety evaluation committee.

Sources said that National Seed Registration Department and Federal Seed Certification Department were merged in 1997 and renamed as `Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department`. After the Cabinet clears the proposal, it would be introduced in the Parliament law making.

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