Getting their hands on seeds that work well is one of the key concerns for any farmer, and the failure of seed to germinate can be very damaging to a season’s growing plan.
Having seeds in time for the best planting window is especially important when you are trying to grow ‘cool weather’ crops like cabbage and cauliflower in a relatively warm place like Goa. But there are varying views on which sources and varieties of seeds are best for a particular place, and whether one should experiment with seeds that are not ‘native’ to your growing area.
Sticking to native, local or heritage seeds is a great idea, because the are usually well adapted to the climatic conditions – and have a higher resistance to local pests. The taste of these varieties is also an advantage since they are usually very popular with local customers. But local seeds are getting harder to find and farmers can be quite selective about who they are willing to share their seeds with too.
The primary source for seeds in most places is the local agriculture department outlet or the KVK (Krishi Vigyan Kendra) outlets — like Ela Farms (Old Goa) or Duler Farms (Mapusa). Their seeds are sourced from approved vendors, and usually have pretty good germination results. The problem is that the variety of seeds available is often limited and often arrives a little late if you are preparing for an early planting. They are also most likely “treated” for preservation for longer periods.
We’ve experimented from many diverse sources of seed from different parts of the country, such as:
- Agricultural universities and research institutions in various parts of India – both the north and the south. They usually promote hybrid varieties developed for pest resistance and better yield
- NGOs that promote seed sovereignty and organic seeds like Navdanya, The Pebble Garden, Vanastree and Annadana. They usually have unusual local and exotic varieties which are not easy to find.
- Private seed sellers who deal in both agricultural and garden scale seed and who seem to focus mainly on hybrid varieties. Their seeds are a mix of open-pollinated and hybrid varieties which are almost always “treated” with chemicals.
- Local varieties of saved seed from local farmers which are largely organic, untreated and open pollinated.