Rasi Seeds is an Indian agriculture company focused on catering to the demands of Indian farmers and addressing the nutritional needs of the country’s growing population. The company has production farms across the country and a research and development team that uses genetic engineering and breeding technologies to develop hybrid varieties of field crops, focusing on traits such as biotic and abiotic stress resistance and adaptability to varying agroclimatic conditions.
Plant breeding activities in index regions and variety testing
Rasi Seeds has its own breeding programme in India, with breeding stations and test centres located in varying agroclimatic zones. The company conducts over 25,000 demos across the country each year to determine the conditions best suited to each hybrid before it is made available for commercial sale to growers.
Developing improved varieties of global crops and local crops
Rasi Seeds’ breeding programme includes global field crops maize, rice (paddy), millets and wheat. These have been developed with traits that are especially important for smallholder farmers in India, such as early maturation and tolerance to pests and diseases, like Blast disease.
Rasi Seeds continuously trains smallholder farmers and trade partners in good agricultural practices to ensure that they get the most out of its seeds in terms of quality and quantity. Rasi Mitra, a platform that provides farmers with crop and hybrid selection help, packaging ideas, and personalised on-call support, was launched by the company in 2015. Regular training on crop management and new technology for respective managers, as well as voluntary farm visits to make need-based recommendations, are all part of the program. The program has attracted almost 10,000 farmers in the period 2018-2020.
The company undertakes stakeholder engagement activities with its biotech research partners, including the University of Ottawa, Madurai Kamaraj University and the University of Georgia. However, it has an opportunity to disclose an overview of issues raised through these activities as well as how it identifies its most relevant stakeholders.
The company provides limited insight into its position and activities related to genetic resources and intellectual property management. As it is important that seed companies contribute to genetic resources and intellectual property management that supports smallholder agriculture, the company could provide more insights into its activities for others to learn from.
Local participation in breeding/variety development
The company could disclose more about how it uses feedback from local consumers, traders and smallholder farmers to inform its breeding programme, including how it incorporates feedback from women farmers.
Seed production activities in index region
The company has seed production activities in India and has over 35,000 seed-growing farmers under its direct supervision who are responsible for effective seed production. However, it has the opportunity to expand its seed production activities to other countries in the region.
Quality management in seed production in index countries
Rasi Seeds has an internal management system to ensure quality, but it is unclear how much of its seed production this covers. Its quality control features include testing for germinability, genetic purity, and other quality parameters, and the company employs a committed and expert team to constantly monitor the quality of hybrid seeds. Rasi Seeds has the opportunity to improve its performance in the area by ensuring that most of its seed production is covered by its quality management system.
Social and labour rights in seed production
The company does not disclose a policy committing to prohibit child and forced labour nor does it disclose a commitment to respect the health and safety of workers, either when seed production is carried out by the company itself or through an intermediary. Furthermore, the company does not disclose whether it pays its workers a living wage or requires its intermediaries to do so.
The company has distribution channels in India, but it can improve its disclosure by providing information on how it services remote areas.
Quality assurance and after-sales
The company has an internal quality assurance system that tests for germinability and genetic purity. To prevent the sale of counterfeit seeds, Rasi Seeds has established a programme called Rasi Gencheck, which includes a scratch code on seed packages that can be sent by SMS to verify that seeds are genuine. The company has an opportunity to disclose how it monitors its distribution network, prevents the sale of expired seeds and provides after-sales support to smallholder farmers.