A soybean seed racket has been unearthed in Akola, Maharashtra. The scam comes on the heels of the large scale soy seed germination failure in the state and further erodes the credibility of government seed corporations. (Read: Seeds of failure)
The racket came to light after Ajay Parate, agriculture officer of Akola, received a tip off that loose soybean available in the market was being packaged and sold as seed by Mahalakshmi seed company, which has a processing license from National Seed Corporation (NSC). “Following the unprecedented germination failure, there was a soy seed crunch in the market as farmers in large numbers were procuring seeds for resowing. Evidently, the racketeers were trying to take advantage of this crunch,” says Parate.
On August 12, an Agriculture department team led by Parate raided Anupam Agro Centre, an outlet of Mahalakshmi, and found employees packing loose soybean into bags bearing the Bhoomidhan brand name of Mahalakshmi seeds. The team seized 3,000, 30-kg bags of seeds. They also found that 2,000 similar bags had already been sold. In all, plans were afoot to release 1.5 tonnes of bogus seeds worth Rs 50 lakh at Rs 1,000 per bag, into the market.
Following investigation, on August 22, the NSC decided to suspend regional manager V P Singh for alleged involvement in the fake seed racket and an inquiry was ordered. Meanwhile, Mahalakshmi company’s license has been canceled by the Agriculture Development Officer of the Akola Zila Parishad.
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