Breeder Seeds, Foundation Seeds and Certified Seeds
Seeds are basic and critical input for enhancing agricultural production and productivity.
The seeds which seeds companies sell in the market and our farmers grow are commonly “certified seeds”. The certification of seeds is a legally sanctioned system for quality control of seeds that are used to cultivate crops. The certified seeds are grown under stringent production requirements and they have improved traits such as better yield, pest resistance, drought tolerance, herbicide tolerance etc. The certified seeds are outcome of few years of research and development to get these improved traits. This R&D is done on their parent plants.
On this basis, there are five different categories viz. Nucleus Seeds, Breeder’s Seeds, Foundation Seeds, Registered Seeds and finally certified seeds. The Offspring of breeder seeds is foundation seeds to registered seeds to certified seeds.
Further, each of the breeders, foundation, registered and certified seeds are certified and labelled with a different colour tag as per Section 5 of the Seeds Act, 1966. Thus, they are also called as Labelled Seed. The Breeder seeds have golden yellow tag, Foundation seeds have white tag, registered seeds have opal blue tag and certified seeds have green tag. This is shown by below graphics.
The process of development of certified seeds begins from its distant parent called Nucleus Seed. The nucleus seed is a genetically pure seed without any impurity. They are obtained from a handful of healthy plants growing in a plot and then grown strictly in isolation. All physical observations such as plant size, growth features, colour and shape of various parts, days taken in maturity etc. are taken into account and recorded. This stage is the most important phase in the seed development because any erroneous selection of the nuclear seed plants would adversely affect the further generations. Once these plants are selected; their seeds are obtained and threshed separately. If it is an oilseed crop; the quality of seeds, yield etc. is observed and recorded and those with undesired yield are removed. These seeds are properly packed and regrown to get the breeder seeds.
A breeder’s seed is an offspring of nucleus seed. A breeder is a person (qualified plant breeder) or organization who raises plant primary for breeding purpose. While nucleus seed is genetically pure; the Breeder seeds are produced by mutual multiplication of three different lines which are denoted by A line, B line and R line. A line is female, while B and R line are male sterile. The seeds from off springs with best and desired quality are selected and certified as Breeder seeds. Such seeds are protected by legal rights called as Breeder’s rights.
The Breeder seed is further multiplied into the foundation and certified seeds. In our country, Breeder seeds are produced Indian Council of Agricultural Research, National Seeds Corporation, States Farms Corporation and agricultural universities in India.
Offspring’s of the Breeder seed which can be clearly traced to Breeder seed are called Foundation Seeds. They are further breaded to give rise to certified seeds. The production of the foundation seeds must be acceptable to a certification agency. A person or company who grows and distributes the certified seeds in accordance with the procedure and specifications of the certification agency is called Certified Seed Producer. The national Seeds Corporation, State farms Corporation of India (SFCI) have the responsibility to produce foundation seeds which suit to demand of national varieties. The State Seed Corporations produce the foundation seeds to suit to local demands.
The progeny of the foundation seed approved and certified by a certifying agency and is suitable to produce certified seeds is called Registered seed.
This is the last stage, which actually reaches to a farmer. Certified seed is the progeny of foundation seed and must meet the standards of seed certification prescribed in the Indian Minimum Seeds Certification Standards, 1988.