In general, seed certification is a process designed to maintain and make available to the general public continuous supply of high quality seeds and propagating materials of notified kinds and varieties of crops, so grown and distributed to ensure the physical identity and genetic purity. Seed certification is a legally sanctioned system for quality control of seed multiplication and production.
History of Seed Certification in India
- The field evaluation of the seed crop and its certification started with the establishment of National Seeds Corporation in 1963.
- A legal status was given to seed certification with the enactment of first Indian Seed Act in the year 1966 and formulation of Seed Rules in 1968. The Seed Act of 1966 provided the required impetus for the establishment of official Seed Certification Agencies by the States.
- Maharashtra was the first State to establish an official Seed Certification Agency during 1970 as a part of the Department of Agriculture, whereas Karnataka was the first State to establish the Seed Certification Agency as an autonomous body during 1974.
- At present 22 States in the country have their own Seed Certification Agencies established under the Seed Act, 1966.
- In India, seed certification is voluntary and labelling is compulsory.
Objective of Seed Certification
The main objective of the Seed Certification is to ensure the acceptable standards of seed viability, vigour, purity and seed health. A well organized seed certification should help in accomplishing the following three primary objectives.
- The systematic increase of superior varieties;
- The identification of new varieties and their rapid increase under appropriate and generally accepted names.
- Provision for continuous supply of comparable material by careful maintenance.
Certification shall be conducted by the Certification Agency notified under Section 8 of the Seeds Act, 1966.
Eligibility requirements for certification
Seed of only those varieties which are notified under Section 5 of the Seeds Act, 1966 shall be eligible for certification. Any variety to become eligible for seed certification should meet the following requirement:
- General requirements - Should be a notified variety under Section-5 of the Indian Seed Act, 1966. Should be in the production chain and its pedigree should be traceable.
- Field standards - Field standards include the selection of site, isolation requirements, spacing, planting ratio, border rows etc.
- Specific requirements - Presence of off-types in any seed crop, pollen-shedders in Sorghum, Bajra, Sunflower etc., Shedding tassels in maize crosses, disease affected plants, objectionable weed plants etc., should be within the maximum permissible levels for certification.
- Seed standards - Minimum seed certification standards have been evolved crop-wise.
Process followed in Seed certification
- An Administrative check on the origin of the propagating material: Source seed verification is the first step in Seed Certification Programme. Unless the seed is from approved source and of designated class certification agency will not accept the seed field for certification, thereby ensuring the use of high quality true to type seed for sowing of seed crops.
- Field Inspection : Evaluation of the growing crop in the field for varietal purity, isolation of seed crop is to prevent out-cross, physical admixtures, disease dissemination and also ensure crop condition as regards to the spread of designated diseases and the presence of objectionable weed plants etc.
- Sample inspection: assessing the planting value of the seeds by laboratory tests. Certification agency draws representative samples from the seeds produced under certification programme and subjects them to germination and other purity tests required for conforming to varietal purity. Bulk Inspection: Under certification programme provision has been made for bulk inspection. Hence, the evaluation of the lot for the purpose of checking homogeneity of the bulk seed produced as compared with the standard sample is carried out. This gives an idea about the genuinity of lot and sample.
- Control plot testing: Here the samples drawn from the source and final seed produced are grown side by side along with the standard samples of the variety in question. By comparison it can be determined whether the varietal purity and health of the produced seed are equal to the results based on field inspection.
- Grow-out test: Evaluation of the seeds for their genuineness to species or varieties or seed borne infection. Here the samples drawn from the lots are grown in the field along with the standard checks. Growing plants are observed for the varietal purity. Grow-out test helps in the elimination of the sub-standard seed lots.
Phases of Seed Certification
Seed Certification is carried out in six broad phases listed as under:
- Receipt and scrutiny of application.
- Verification of seed source, class and other requirements of the seed used for raising the seed crop.
- Inspection of the seed crop in the field to verify its conformity to the prescribed field standards.
- Supervision at post-harvest stages including processing and packing.
- Drawing of samples and arranging for analysis to verify conformity to the seed standards; and
- Grant of certificate, issue of certification tags, labelling, sealing etc.
Validity Period of the Certificate
The validity period shall be nine months from the date of test at the time of initial certification. The validity period could be further extended for six months provided on retesting seed conforms to the prescribed standards in respect of physical purity, germination and insect damage for all seeds except vegetatively propagating material for which lot shall be re-examined for seed standards specified for respective crop. A seed lot will be eligible for extension of the validity period as long as it conforms to the prescribed standards.
Source : Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare