A Progressive Regulatory Framework for Inputs Improves Agricultural Output and Farmer Profitability
India is the world's second largest agricultural producer, accounting for 7.39% of worldwide agricultural output. The Indian agriculture sector is slowing due to erratic monsoons, yield stagnation and poor produce prices, among other things. By 2022, the government wants to double farmers income. The programme will go a long way toward addressing the agrarian crisis, but it will need to be complemented by a governmental environment that encourages crop science.
Crop science research and innovative product development are intrinsically linked to increased agricultural productivity and food security. Crop output is reduced by 15 to 25% due to insects, weeds and illnesses. This is a huge difficulty for Indian farmers, especially when combined with floods, droughts and changing weather patterns. Seed technology and crop protection, on the other hand, can provide long-term solutions and play a crucial role in boosting agricultural growth, increasing farmer income and maintaining national food security. However, to allow sophisticated crop science solutions access the market, a progressive and expedient regulatory environment is required.
A new GM seed or crop protection product can take up to a decade to develop and commercialize all over the world. This process is sped up in India by a lengthy regulatory process. If a product is urgently needed to combat a new pest, the present regulatory process may result in the situation on the ground changing dramatically by the time the product receives final clearance and is made accessible on the market. Because we are dealing with a biological issue including live organisms such as plants, insects and micro-organisms, the problem for which the product was produced may have grown into something more complicated, requiring an enhanced or even a new solution.
To ensure product safety and reduce risk to humans, animals and the environment, the regulatory framework addresses the creation, manufacture, storage, sale, transportation and use of products appropriately. Regulation, on the other hand, should be science-based, predictable and time-bound. It is critical to identify and address systemic bottlenecks that cause approval delays. It is necessary to prevent both regulation and overregulation. The advancement of the crop science industry requires regulatory support.
Accelerating the transfer of innovations that have already been tested and deployed elsewhere is critical in both biotechnology and crop protection goods. Regulatory assistance is especially needed for items that improve our agriculture's resource efficiency and safety, consequently helping our farmers. Rapid knowledge transfer and manufacturing of such products in India will aid our Make in India drive and provide impetus for the development of indigenous production capabilities, lowering product costs and allowing benefits to be transmitted more easily to farmers.
For example, the introduction of a new crop protection product formulation or minor changes to existing formulas must be subjected to a simplified, expedited regulatory process. Another widely acknowledged way for making the regulatory procedure robust but smooth is to group crops and approve items for each category of crops.
Since 2010, the regulatory procedure for biotechnology and seeds has moved at a snail's pace. Since 2005, no new technologies have been approved. The regulator GEAC has certified GM Mustard and GM Brinjal, but there has been no political decision to approve their commercialization. Companies have halted research and new product development as a result of the uncertainty. In the long run, this will make our farmers uncompetitive in international markets. This must be corrected straight away and predictability must be introduced into the process.
Protecting the intellectual property of new research items is critical for instilling confidence in investors. The crop protection industry has requested a data protection term to allow them to enhance their efforts in developing better, safer and more effective solutions. For the past five years, there has been a lot of misunderstanding about the status of patent protection for GM features, which has caused the sector to completely withdraw. The government must make a strong statement about its intention to protect agricultural inputs intellectual property and provide the required legal framework.
Finally, in order for the regulatory structure to be really progressive, regulatory provisions such as license and permissions must be standardized across the country. The Seed Act and the Insecticide Act are not implemented uniformly among states, which have diverse sets of laws and regulations, resulting in complexity. A unified, comprehensive regulatory framework across India can help reduce bottlenecks and considerably improve the ease of doing business.
In the midst of growing farm hardship, the question of input regulation takes on increased weight. Productivity and resource utilization ratios improve with higher-quality inputs. The government's developmental plans for farmer welfare can be supplemented by giving a boost to the crop science business, which has a proven track record of increasing agricultural output.
A progressive regulatory framework with a mechanism to deal with emergent issues can help the crop science business grow and play a catalytic role in allowing farmers to access better and more efficient inputs.