Dissemination of private hybrids and crop yields in the semi-arid tropics of India

Bharat Ramaswami, Carl E. Pray, Timothy Kelley

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3 Scopus citations


Legal protections in developing countries are relatively weak and have not been the principal barriers to replication. As is well known, seed from hybrid-seeded crops cannot be used without major yield reductions in future generations. Hybrid seeds therefore provide a mechanism for private technology suppliers to appropriate a significant enough share of the gains from higher yields. And this has been the principal route for private firms in the seed business. This route is, however, blocked for entry into wheat and rice - the principal food crops of Asia. Wheat hybrid seeds have not been developed and hybrid seed in rice is recent. Maize, sorghum and pearl millet are the food crops where hybrid seeds have been successfully developed. It may therefore seem that private hybrid seed promise little to the wheat and rice eating developing world. However, even in predominantly wheat and rice eating regions, such as South Asia, sorghum and pearl millet are important to a poor household's diet. In addition, in India, these crops are grown predominantly in the poorer semi-arid regions rather than in the more favourably endowed wheat and rice growing areas. India has one of the largest private seed sectors in the developing world. While a large number of firms confine their activity to seed multiplication and distribution, there are some firms active in plant improvement through plant breeding. As a result of policy changes in the late 1980s culminating in the economy wide reforms of 1991, investments in private plant breeding multiplied three-fold (Pray et al., 2001). Is private plant breeding then an important source of technology in the poor semi-arid tropical regions of India? And in particular, is this so for crops like sorghum and pearl millet? These are the question that we seek to answer in this paper.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-51
Number of pages13
JournalIndian Journal of Agricultural Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development


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