Breeders Seed Production
When ICAR-CPRI was established in 1949,there were no seed certification standards for potato. The institute started systematic seed production programme. The high hills of HP were the traditional source of healthy seed but the quantity of seed produced was not enough to meet the requirements of the country. A major breakthrough in potato seed production was achieved with the development of the seed Production Technology, which involves growing of seed crop during low aphid period in North Indian Plains. Aphids are insect vectors that spread potato virus diseases. Prior to the development of this technology, the main sources of potato seed were the high hills, mid hills and North eastern plains.
Though the seed produced in high hills did meet the requirement of health standards, it was not physiologically suitable for planting the main crop in plains because of dormancy. The seed produced in mid hills and North-eastern plains was not healthy enough.It carried viruses and latent infection of bacterial wilt pathogen. New seed producing areas emerged with the advent of this technology which also gave the following advantages:
It became possible to grow healthy seed in the plains,consequently, the North Western plains emerged as important ares of high quality seed production.
Seed produced in the plains is stored in cold stores.During the storage, it becomes non-dormant and sprouts quickly when taken out of cold stores.Thus it attains an idea physiological stage for planting in the early or main crop in the plains. The seed production in the plains is free of serious pathogens causing bacterial wilt and soil borne diseases and pests.
The availability of seed in a proper physiological stage both from hills and plains gave the farmers flexibility in taking up healthier potato crop in different seasons.
During the last decade,ICAR-CPRI and AICPIP have identified new ares for seed production and areas for seed production and areas where the farmers can retain their own seed for 4-5 years. The institute produces basic seed at its regional stations located at Kufri,Jalandhar,Modipuram,Patna and Gwalior. Modern biotechnological techniques have been used for eliminating viruses from seed stocks of commercial cultivars. At present ICAR-CPRI produces 2550 tonnes of basic seed annually and supplies about 2000 tonnes to central and state government agencies for further multiplication and supply to the farmers.Because of its high quality , the basic seed produced by the institute commands high standards in potato seed certification and its seed production programee is considered to be one of the best in the world. During the last ten years, additional areas, namely Hissar,Faizabad, Kanpur, Deesaand Kota have been identified as being suited for seed production. It was also discovered that farmers can maintain their own seed without losing productivity by following the seed production technology, for up to five years in the North western plains and in the central plains and up to four years in Gujrat and West Bengal. This can bring about a major reduction in the cost of cultivation.
At present ICAR-CPRI produces 2550 tonnes of basic seed annually and supplies about 2000 tonnes to central and state governemnt agencies for further multiplication in three stages viz. Foundation I, Foundation II, Certified seeds. In each stage the minimum multiplication rate is 6 times. Thus 2000 tonnes breeders seed should give 2000*6*6*6=432000 t certified seed. Thus the indigenous seed production system is saving the country at least US $432000* 1120=483840000 or ay 484 million US$ equivalent to RS. 17424 million annually. The ingeniously produced seed is available to the farmers @RS 5000-7000 i.e. US $ 139 to 194 per tonne as against US $ 1120-1200 per tonne in neighboring countries.