Seed plays a key role in increasing food and fibre production to meet the increasing demands of the people, and is a focus around which strategies to boost crop yields can be built. Silvey (1981) estimated that wheat yields in England and Wales increased by 105% within 30 years, of which 63% was due to the use of seed of new and improved varieties.
The role of seed in providing sustainable crop production is mainly through new varieties. Investment in research and plant breeding will be of little use unless varieties showing significant genetic superiority, high purity, and sound health are actually used by the farmers. Good crop stands are ensured through the use of seeds which germinate vigorously. The spread of weeds and diseases can be minimized by using clean and healthy seeds. Another important aspect of the role of quality seed is that among the inputs used by the farmer, seed is the cheapest. Seed is a carrier of new technologies.
High-quality seed when wisely combined with other inputs significantly increases yield levels. In China, India, and Pakistan, the trend towards self-sufficiency in food over the past few years is mainly due to the cultivation of high-yielding varieties. The introduction of improved seed raises the utility of traditional inputs and increases their consumption as well. Quality seed is a basic tool for a secure fcod supply. With quality seed in hand, a nation can successfully survive both in peace and in war.
Depen- dence on other countries for food is minimized and a considerable amount of foreign exchange is saved. Improved seed is a medium for rapid rehabili- tation of agriculture in cases of natural disasters like floods and droughts with their subsequent threats of famine and starvation.