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Liberalization, biotechnology and the private seed sector: The Case of India's cotton seed market


  • Milind Murugkar

    () (Pragati Abhiyan, Nasik)

  • Bharat Ramaswami

    () (Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi)

  • Mahesh Shelar

    () (Pragati Abhiyan, Nasik)


Liberalization, stronger intellectual property rights laws and the commercialization of biotechnology have led the private sector to become an important supplier of varietal technology in agriculture in developed and developing countries. The departure from the public sector driven Green Revolution model has given rise to new concerns about competition in the seed market. India's cotton seed market exemplifies these new developments. This study examines the evolution in its market structure and the factors that underlie the changes. The study finds that while the private sector has grown rapidly in the last decade (when these policies and technological developments were operative), their dominance of the market cannot be ascribed directly to any of the conventionally cited factors. Furthermore, despite more than a decade after the removal of FDI restrictions, the presence of foreign majors is limited. The rapid growth has been driven by domestic firms. The growth was not accompanied by greater consolidation in the industry. As the proprietary market has grown, more private players have come into the market eating away at the share of the market leaders. However, the leading brands do possess some market power which at the retail level is shared with the seed dealer. With Bt cotton, the seed industry encompasses a seed market as well as a technology market. To some extent, biosafety laws have protected the monopoly of the incumbent which has received a significant first mover advantage. However, the market structure is not frozen because of diffusion from illegal seeds, competition from alternative gene suppliers and changing regulatory practices.

Suggested Citation

  • Milind Murugkar & Bharat Ramaswami & Mahesh Shelar, 2006. "Liberalization, biotechnology and the private seed sector: The Case of India's cotton seed market," Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers 06-05, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India.
  • Handle: RePEc:ind:isipdp:06-05

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pray, Carl E. & Ramaswami, Bharat & Kelley, Timothy, 2001. "The impact of economic reforms on R&D by the Indian seed industry," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 587-598, December.
    2. Pingali, P. L. & Traxler, G., 2002. "Changing locus of agricultural research: will the poor benefit from biotechnology and privatization trends?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 223-238, June.
    3. Robert Tripp & Suresh Pal, 2000. "Information and agricultural input markets: pearl millet seed in Rajasthan," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(1), pages 133-144.
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    Cited by:

    1. Iizuka, M. & Thutupalli, A., 2014. "Globalization, the rise of biotechnology and catching up in agricultural innovation: The case of Bt technology in India," MERIT Working Papers 054, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    2. Stone, Glenn Davis, 2011. "Field versus Farm in Warangal: Bt Cotton, Higher Yields, and Larger Questions," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 387-398, March.
    3. Spielman, David J. & Kolady, Deepthi E. & Cavalieri, Anthony & Rao, N. Chandrasekhara, 2014. "The seed and agricultural biotechnology industries in India: An analysis of industry structure, competition, and policy options," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 88-100.


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