1. The economic importance of genetically and physically pure seed of high-yielding varieties and hybrids has been, of late, receiving increased recognition. It is an established fact that good quality seed is a pre-requisite for optimum return of the crop. In fact, few other agricultural inputs meet with as ready a response and adoption from farmers as high quality seed. It is the cheapest input and forms only a small fraction of cultivation expenses. Further, improved seed encourages the use of modern production technology. Continuous supply of good quality seed, therefore, is essential for maintaining tempo of revolution in agriculture.
2. Today, good quality seed offers great production potential. Most of the agriculturally advanced countries have legislative measures governing the quality of seed sold to farmers. In India, until recently, there was no such legislation, except in Jammu & Kashmir where an Act in respect of vegetable seed only was in force. In order to ensure supply of good quality seed to the tillers of the land and to protect the honest seed dealers, it was considered necessary to enact suitable legislation for the country. On the 29th December 1966 the Indian Parliament passed the Seeds Act 1966 for regulating the quality of seeds sold in the country for the purpose of agriculture. The Act has been in force in the whole of the country with effect from 1st October, 1969. It extends to the whole of India. It is applicable to seed and vegetative propagating materials of food crops including edible oilseeds, fruits, vegetables, pulses, sugars, starches, cotton and fodder crops. Even in these groups it is applicable to seed of only certain kinds (crops) and varieties called the notified kinds and varieties notified under Section 5 of the Act. It is not presently applicable to fiber crops such as jute and mesta, plantation crops such as rubber, cocoa, coffee, and tea, essential oils such as eucalyptus, ornamental flowers, and narcotics such as tobacco etc.
3. The Act attempts to regulate the quality of seed sold by providing for compulsory labeling and for voluntary certification. In the former, any one handling seed of a notified kind or variety must ensure that the seed confirms to certain minimum limits of germination and purity and that the seed is labeled as prescribed. In the later, namely, voluntary certification, any one desirous of having the seed certified can have it done by a certification agency, by fulfilling the conditions stipulated by the agency. The Act also requires that seed subjected to certification is labeled as prescribed. Thus all certified seed must be labeled but all labeled seed need not be certified. To ensure that its attempts to regulate the quality of seed by compulsory labeling and voluntary certification are successful, the Act provides for appointment of Inspectors, Analysts and notification of laboratories all of which constitute the Act enforcement group. Though all the constituents of the group are important, successful and effective enforcement of the Act largely depends on the Inspectors. It is not enough to merely promulgate the Act and the Rules and take consequential action. The Inspector must ensure that implementation is effective and that the seed dealer and the farmer understand that this is a regulatory Act-it insists the seller to be sure of the quality of what he is selling and enables the farmer to be sure of the quality of what he is buying. And yet, if the inspector is not imaginative enough, he might be looked upon as a prosecutor rather than as a guide.