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Product Proliferation in India's Cotton Seed Market: Are There Too Many Varieties?

Listed author(s):
  • Ramaswami Bharat

    (Indian Statistical Institute)

  • Murugkar Milind

    (Institute of Engineering Education and Research)

  • Shelar Mahesh

    (Institute of Engineering Education and Research)

With about $250 million in sales, India's cotton seed market is one of the largest cotton seed markets in the world. While products of public sector breeding traditionally dominated this sector, the bulk of value is now accounted by private seed firms. A persistent criticism of the Indian cotton seed market is that there are far too many cotton varieties as the private sector recycles older and inferior varieties under new names. This paper examines the phenomenon of variety proliferation in the cotton seed market of Maharashtra, India. Empirical evidence is presented from a survey of seed dealers in 2005. The evidence shows that while variety proliferation is indeed observed, the cause of it is private bred hybrids that are highly localized and which are rarely market leaders. Only a few varieties are dominant geographically and they command price premiums suggesting brand power. Firm and brand reputations matter and substitute for regulation by restricting fly-by-night operators.

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Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization.

Volume (Year): 7 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 1-17

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:bjafio:v:7:y:2009:i:1:n:2
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