Soybean seeds shortage in Maharashtra drives prices northwards

Farmers in Maharashtra are demanding seeds from the state-owned body, Mahabeej, which are available at Rs 2,100 to Rs 2,200 for a 30-kg pack, compared to soybean seeds from private companies that cost Rs 3,200-3,500. Madhya Pradesh (MP), which is the largest soybean seed producing state, had reported rain damage to its crop last year.

Ahead of the kharif season, farmers in Maharashtra and other major soybean producing regions are concerned over availability of seeds and have reported a shortage of quality seeds, reports Financial Express.

India requires 12-13 lakh tonnes of soybean seeds every year. Majority of the seed manufacturing companies are based out of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra farmers being their biggest purchasers. Any damage to the crop in MP affects farmers in Maharashtra as well.

Around 80 per cent of Maharashtra’s seed requirement comes from MP. Maharashtra cultivates soybean on approximately 40 lakh hectare. The state requires at least 32 lakh quintal of soybean for seed purposes annually. The private sector accounts for more than 80% of the seeds sold and a vast majority of farmers engage in seed production activities in Madhya Pradesh.

The 2020-21 season has been very lucrative for soybean because farmers received hefty returns. Soybean prices crossed Rs 6,500 per quintal to Rs 7,000 per quintal in key markets in Maharashtra and other states. Soybean prices have been on the higher side this year due to a reduced crop caused by excessive rainfall.

The seed production programme of Mahabeej has also affected this year due to rains. Mahabeej had made available more than 2.5 lakh quintal. Maharashtra had reported a major failure in germination of soybean seeds in the kharif season of 2020-21 with over 1.60 lakh complaints registered by farmers across the state.

The Maharashtra Agriculture Commissionerate had cancelled licences of 11 seed companies for their alleged role in supplying inferior quality soybean seeds to farmers that led to germination failure.

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