Mega Seed Park / Hub proposal by a US University center - Pros & Cons
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Availability of safe and quality seeds to farmers have become an alarming issue to day due to non existence of an efficient seed regulatory, testing and certification system. The seed bill is still pending with Govt of India and Agriculture being a state subject the onus lies on the State Govts to take necessary reforms. In this backdrop an innovative model to create a seed value chain enhancement platform was designed in consultation with the Seed Science Center of Iowa State University which has Research capability to help in the consultation process to develop a holistic model hence a proposal of Mega Seed Park was developed with an intention that Iowa State University would bring in 300 odd seed companies that are not operative in India to set up their operations in the Mega Seed Park and be part of the consortium that will develop the Platform (Mega Seed Park).
The idea was to bring on board Key partners having relevance to Indian Agriculture and cutting across capability on science parks innovation and Incubator to help Govt form a platform to be lead in a PPP mode. A platform that will set up a Seed industrial park, upgrade state govt research and testing center, establish an Incubation center and work closely with State Agricultural Universities to provide the applied research opportunities and make them functional. The entire spectrum of States seed requirement to be considered under this platform that includes Agriculture Horticulture Forestery and fisheries and bring on board respective International and national partners.
A proposal was developed seeking inception funds from Govt of AP (Rs.2 Crores), Govt Rajasthan (Ra.5.Crores) and Telengana (Rs.5 Crores) suggesting a total outlay of 100 Million USD outlay claiming 2 Billiin USD investments to be brought in to the Parks.
While all the above are just claims with no factual analytical logic, the name from Park to Hub was used to park same cut paste proposals parallely to these Governments.
My petition to the Hon recipients is - especially Govt of AP to stop the inception funding and set up an expert committee to evaluate and set overseas partners to contribute their inception efforts to realise the larger objective of resource mobilisation and implementation and allow a PPP model to evolve. The potential partners to such a Mega proposal are CGIAR Center's eaoecially ICRISAT, Universities like Wagenigen University Research, University of Queensland who have considerable geographical knowledge and experience apart from Iowa center should be brought on board. An SPV can be formed to realise this model that has commercial value so that state benefits further.
The AP effort started as early as 2016 and a same lettee of cooperation was signed 4 times with two International delegation visits to USA. The second visit includes Hon CM of AP. The talk is superficial and leading to only enforce inception funding to a cash rich institution like Iowa State University which will have commercial interests from their US partners eventually. Why should we allow this? Rather request the US University partner to co-create!
The issues are - the state administration is focussed on PR activity and gifting inception funds without any logical evaluation. As the same proposal has been submitted to three different states citing same market cap which is again notional, a collaborative effort to develop a joint proposal maybe requested wherein each partner invests their time and resource to build a proposal that is State specific and State govts can facilitate infrastructure, align their respective Agricultural Universities and endorse such an activity so that target investments and funding partners are realised to sustain.
The Seed Science Center of Iowa State University should not look at a serious proposal like this as a funding channel to support their staffs luxurious International travel at the expense of State treasury rather believe in the model and co-invest judiciousky to help build a legitimate proposal that benefits the State.
My request to the recipients is to kindly examine the proposal and approve a co-creation effort and withdraw any seed funding towards partners staff and their travel rather facilitate logistic requirements. And encourage them to co-invest and be a consortium partner to bring change to the current seed value chain by mainstreaming MSME seed operators and make available safe and quality seed to farmers. This will also avoid International partners taking advantage of working with different state governments and duplication of expenses and duplicated economical claims.
I was part of the think thank that developed this strategy for Iowa State University's Seed Science Center as a consultant representing Govt of AP.
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