The new heat-tolerant wheat variety PBW 826 has apparently made its way to seed shops in Luhdiana and neighboring districts at high costs, although the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has officially exhausted the initial stock of the award-winning variety.

In a surprise inspection, a team from the Department of Agriculture on Tuesday confiscated pamphlets distributed by owners of seed shops outside PAU Gate No. 1 claiming the availability of the PBW 826 variety for 150 per kilogram.

Speaking about the university’s complaint, Agricultural Manager Amanjeet Singh said, “We have received a complaint from PAU regarding the sale of PBW 826 seed and our teams are carrying out inspections. Pamphlets mentioning PBW 826 were found in two private stores and confiscated. Additional checks are ongoing, but no seed stocks have yet been found.

Joginder Singh, a farmer from Moga, said private store owners sell the seeds to farmers who are either acquaintances or sent by a mediator. “A separate godown has been put in place and the seeds are sold without a tag or purchase invoice,” he added.

Notably, the university had sold the seed to 100 per kg during its recent Kisan Mela with a cap of 2 kg seed per farmer after Aadhar card verification – to ensure that seed does not fall into the hands of private companies.

The director of seeds, PAU, Rajinder Singh, said the university had only developed 1,000 quintals of seed and exhausted much of it at Kisan Melas itself.

“The seed was introduced this year and could not be multiplied in a year. Farmers have been advised not to buy high priced uncertified produce and we have reported the issue to the Department of Agriculture,” he added.

The Kisan Mela in PAU had seen farmers take a keen interest in the new wheat variety given its heat-tolerant quality. Farmers across the state suffered losses during the Rabi season due to the sudden increase in temperature in February and March.

Notably, a similar situation arose in May 2020 when the vigilance team confiscated paddy PB 128, 129 seeds developed by PAU that year after reports that it was sold illegally in private stores.

What is PBW 826?

The agricultural university, in August, had introduced the PBW 826 variety characterized by its better heat tolerance after four years of clinical and field trials. The new variety yielded 31% and 17% more than HD 3086 and HD 2967, respectively.