Business Ideas on Seed Production and Technologies

Agriculture plays major role in every sphere of our life and equivalently in the world of business. Out of so many items SEED is most important in this segment to undertake by the young entrepreneurs, particularly who are fresh agriculture graduates having basic knowledge of cultivation, strength of carrying hard work, innovative mind and definitely business aptitude. Interesting as in other business, seed business has many segments. At individual level one can do production, sale directly to the farmers and control own capacity within his capability limit. However in Small Scale Commercial production and processing, an entrepreneur may undertake several activities related to seed business, namely farm unit for production, hybridization or to use any other breeding technology, distribution of own produce, promotion in markets through packaging etc. In my opinion seed plays a significant role in corporatization of agribusiness with the adoption of latest seed improvement technologies which are mostly impractical for small or individual entrepreneur. 

Business Ideas on Seed Production and Technologies

As of now most demanded one is Hybrid Varity seeds followed by high yielding varieties in case of major cereal, oilseed, as well as vegetable crops. Production of hybrid seed for cereals like rice, maize, sorghum and oil seeds namely sunflower, mustard and others.

Hybrid Variety Seed Production

To know technological part involved one should know how hybrid variety seed production is undertaken.

“The development of hybrid varieties differs from hybridization in that no attempt is made to produce a pure-breeding population; only the F1 hybrid plants are sought. The F1 hybrid of crosses between different genotypes is often much more vigorous than its parents. This hybrid vigour, or heterosis, can be manifested in many ways, including increased rate of growth, greater uniformity, earlier flowering, and increased yield, the last being of greatest importance in agriculture.

By far the greatest development of hybrid varieties has been in corn (maize), primarily because its male flowers (tassels) and female flowers (incipient ears) are separate and easy to handle, thus proving economical for the production of hybrid seed. The production of hand-produced F1 hybrid seed of other plants, including ornamental flowers, has been economical only because greenhouse growers and home gardeners have been willing to pay high prices for hybrid seed.” (

“The production of F1 hybrid seed between two strains is accomplished by interplanting a sterile version of one strain (say A) in an isolated field with a fertile version of another strain (B). Since strain A produces no viable pollen, it will be pollinated by strain B, and all seeds produced on strain A plants must therefore be F1 hybrids between the strains. The F1 hybrid seeds are then planted to produce the commercial crop. Much of the breeder’s work in this process is in developing the pure-breeding sterile and fertile strains to begin the hybrid seed production. Pollination in corn (maize) is by wind, which blows pollen from the tassels to the styles (silks) that protrude from the tops of the ears. Thus controlled cross-pollination on a field scale can be accomplished economically by interplanting two or three rows of the seed parent inbred with one row of the pollinator inbred and detasselling the former before it sheds pollen. In practice most hybrid corn is produced from “double crosses,” in which four inbred lines are first crossed in pairs (A × B and C × D) and then the two F1 hybrids are crossed again (A × B) × (C × D). The double-cross procedure has the advantage that the commercial F1 seed is produced on the highly productive single cross A × B rather than on a poor-yielding inbred, thus reducing seed costs. In recent years cytoplasmic male sterility has been used to eliminate detasselling Pollination in corn (maize) is by wind, which blows pollen from the tassels to the styles (silks) that protrude from the tops of the ears. Thus controlled cross-pollination on a field scale can be accomplished economically by interplanting two or three rows of the seed parent inbred with one row of the pollinator inbred and detasselling the former before it sheds pollen.” (

Possibilities of Hybrid Variety Seed Production

So with this simple background information what can be done:
1. Hybrid seed production
2. Production of A line, B line and R line for different corporate seed sectors
3. Production of inbred lines wherever necessary
4. Production of pollen and supply to the system
5. Development of new A, B and R lines
6. Development of germplasm resources for the breeders or breeding companies
7. Many more

Vegetable Seed

Vegetable seed industry has enormous employment generation potential. Hybrid seed production of vegetable requires lot of manual labour for emasculation and pollination. There is a need to diversify the vegetable seed production hubs to nontradition high productive regions. 

The Global Vegetable Seeds Market is estimated to be valued at USD 8.77 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach USD 14.00 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of +8.10% from 2019. Asian vegetable seed market is the largest where China and India are the major players in the region occupying 48 per cent of the global vegetable
seed market share. The Indian market for vegetable seed is projected to grow at a CAGR of 9.8% for the forecast period between 2020-2025. Indian seed industry is the 5th largest in the world and is worth 2.7 billion US $ (Dubey, 2016). Out of this, total vegetable seed market including OPV’s is 4000 crores (US $ 580 m). India is the tenth largest importer of vegetable seeds by value and seventh largest importer by volume, in the world. It accounted for about 1% of the total vegetable seed imports by volume during 2018. Europe stands next with 26 per cent share and France being major vegetable seed exporting hub to rest of the world. During 2015-16 India exported 18.7 million tonnes of vegetables worth 4866.91crores. Export of Vegetable Seeds from India was 11.99 thousand MT, valuing Rs. Crores 745.95 / US$ Mill 107.76 during 2018-19. India exports vegetable seeds majorly to Netherlands (25.42 Mill USD), followed by USA (22.25 Mill USD), and Pakistan (17.1 Mill USD). 

Possibilities of Vegetable Seed Production

So what can be possible for vegetable seed production in India , particularly in West Bengal.

1. Simply to produce seeds of different vegetable crops have markets in India and other countries. To name mainly solanaceous and cucurbitaceous crops.

2. Tomato is the world’s largest vegetable crop after potato and sweet potato. Asia alone produces 60 percent of total world’s Tomato with China and India leading the global Tomato production. In 2017, world’s Tomato production was 182 Mill MT. China ranks first in the list with annual production of 59.51 Mill MT followed by India – 20.71 Mill MT, Turkey – 12.75 Mill MT and USA – 10.91 Mill MT.
(Source: FAO) .India’s climatic conditions are very congenial for the growth of wide variety of Tomato.

3. In 2018, India exported Mill USD 25.22 worth Tomato seeds which consists of 61 percent of total vegetable seed export. Netherland was the largest importer with import value of Mill USD 11.19 followed by USA – Mill USD 4.36, Israel – Mill USD 1.14 and Pakistan Ir– Mill USD 0.98. (Source: DGCIS) The pricerealized per unit of Tomato seeds is much higher in the regions like Europe, America and Africa than APAC region. Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, and Ethiopia are the countries from Africa importing Tomato seeds from India. Egypt and Nigeria are the largest producers of Tomatoes in Africa, together producing more than 10 Mill tons of Tomato annually.

4. In 2018, India exported Mill USD 1.76 worth of Cabbage seeds accounting for 0.99 percent of total vegetable seed export. Bangladesh was the largest importer with import value of Mill USD 0.43 followed by Pakistan –Mill USD 0.26 , USA –Mill USD 0.21 and Kenya –Mill USD 0.2.

5. India has the potential to be a breeding center for other tropical/ sub-tropical vegetable crops such as Peas, Cauliflower, Radish, Onion, Hot Pepper (Capsicum) Okra, Egg Plant etc. India is also exporting these vegetable seeds to the various international destinations.

6. Radish Seed find place in the markets like Bangladesh (35.71 per cent), Pakistan (22.86 per cent), Vietnam (14.29 per cent), Korea (5.71 per cent) and Hong Kong (4.29 per cent). The total export during 2018-19 was 414.72 metric tons, valued at USD 0.7 million. Of the total exports, USD 0.25 Mill was to Bangladesh and USD 0.16 Mill to Pakistan. (Source: DGCIS)

7. Indian seed industry has been growing awfully in quantity and value over the past fifty years. Both public and private sector corporations/companies are actively involving in quality seed production. The public sector component comprises National Seeds Corporation (NSC), State Farm Corporation of India (SFCI) and 15 State Seeds Corporations (SSCs) ,Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) institutions and State Agricultural Universities. ICAR launched an All India Coordinated Research Improvement project (AICRP) on seed production called National Seed Project in 1979 with 14 centres in different Agricultural Universities. AICRP on production of breeder seed in vegetable crops is started under National Seed Project in 1994. Twenty two State Seed Certification Agencies and 104 State Seed
Testing Laboratories are involving in quality control and certification (Poonia, 2013). The private sector
comprises around 150 seed companies of national and foreign origin but only few companies like M/S
Rasi seeds M/S Bejo Sheetal, Indo-American Hybrid Seeds and Namdhari Seeds are working exclusively on vegetable.

Suggestion for New Entrepreneurs 

My suggestion to new entrepreneurs would be to undertake seed production of any vegetables which are very common in West Bengal. As for example -
1. Tomato
2. Brinjal
3. Cabbage
4. Spinach
5. Radish
6. Cucumbers
7. Melons
8. Amaranthus
9. Gourds
10. Chilli & sweet peppers
11. Others

In most of the vegetables hybrid seed production is most fascinating even for a single person having minimum one acre land. There are so many fund supports for the start ups and can be utilised effectively. A small packaging unit costing less than Rs, 20000/ would be most helpful for individual breeder. Seed production of heirloom varieties now has tremendous market demand. Similarly organic seed production plays a new dimension.

It is challenging job, no doubt but may ago a long way if undertaken by young graduates. The known as well unknown technologies are available in internet for any such work and one can easily enhance his/her skill by going through these resources available.

To strengthen further author may be contacted for advice.
(most of data collected from internet and the text copied duly acknowledged)

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