UPSC MAINS 2019 : Seed Certification

Seed Certification

Topic : Seed Certification

Topic in Syllabus: General Studies Paper 3: Indian Agriculture



Seed Certification

The Centre is planning to mandate uniform certification of seed by amending the Seeds Act, 1966.



  • To bring uniformity to the process of quality regulation.
  • To brought planting materials such as cuttings, grafting and tissue culture under the ambit of the law.
  • To regulate the quality of all seeds sold in the country as well as exported and imported seeds.



1.Bringing uniformity in the quality regulation

Currently, about 30% of seeds are saved by farmers from his crop which he may re-plant or sell it locally. The remaining seeds which are bought and sold commercially, 45% come through the ICAR system and have gone through the mandated certification process.

The other 55% seeds called ‘truthful label seeds ‘are sold by private companies, most of which are not certified. That is, they are simply self-certified by the company.

The new legislation will remove that category with the new law and mandate certification through a proper lab process for all seeds.

  1. Increased fine

The new Bill will also raise the stakes by increasing penalties for non-compliance by private companies in selling low quality seeds.

Currently, the fine ranges from ₹500 to ₹5,000. The Bill intend to raise that to a maximum of ₹5 lakhs.



More than half of all seeds sold in India are not certified by any proper testing agency, and are often of poor quality.



It can increase overall agricultural productivity by up to 25%.


Definition of seed classes:

Nuclear seed:

This is genetically pure seed with physical purity and produced by the original breeder/Institute /State Agriculture University (SAU) from basic nucleus seed stock.

A pedigree certificate is issued by the producing breeder.

Breeder seed:

Breeder seed is seed propagating material directly controlled by the originating or sponsoring plant breeder of the breeding programme or institution and/or seed whose production is personally supervised by a qualified plant breeder.

This is also hundred percent physical and genetic pure seed for production of foundation seed.

A golden yellow colour certificate is issued for this category of seed by the producing breeder.

Foundation seed:

The progeny of breeder seed produced by recognized seed producing agencies in public and private sector, under supervision of seed certification agencies in such a way that its quality is maintained according to prescribed standards.

A white colour certificate is issued for foundation seed by seed certification agencies.

Registered seed:

Registered seed shall be the progeny of foundation seed that is so handled as to maintain its genetic identity and purity according to standard specified for the particular crop being certified.

A purple colour certificate is issued for this category of seed.

Certified seed:

The progeny of foundation seed produced by registered seed growers under supervision of seed certification agencies to maintain the seed quality as per minimum seed certification standards.

A blue colour certificate is issued by seed certification agency for this category of seed.


Difference between certified seed and truthful labelled seed

Difference between certified seed and truthful labelled seed


What is DUS Testing?

  • DUS stands for Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability.
  • This is a criterion on the basis of which the Plant Breeders’ Rights will be granted to a variety by the Authority.
  • DUS test will be used as main criteria for deciding the novelty of a variety. The formulation of National test guidelines for DUS testing has been entrusted to Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).


Key Facts

  • Seed Replacement Rate is the percentage of area sown out of total area of crop planted in the season by using certified/quality seeds other than the farm saved seed.
  • The National Seeds Corporation Ltd.(NSC), a Public Sector Undertaking under the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, was established in 1963 for producing and distributing Seeds of high quality to the farmers.


Sample Question:

Why is uniform certification of seeds needed? How is it going to benefit farmer – consumer chain? (150 words)



Seed Certification infograph