Liberalization, biotechnology and the private seed sector: The Case of India's cotton seed market
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.
Seed industry liberalization, cotton seed market, Bt cotton, intellectual property rights
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