One of the most negative results of the commercialisation of agriculture is the total dependence by the farmer on external sources for all his farming inputs, including seeds. Whereas earlier farmers used to save and share their seeds, today they depend wholly upon seed companies for their requirements. Indigenous seeds are more suitable to a particular region or situation than any hybrid variety.
There are a number of reasons why it makes sense to use indigenous or traditional seeds (called heirloom seeds in the West). Compared to hybrid seeds, they are hardy, pest-resistant, withstand unfavorable conditions in the area of their origin, require less water and nutritional inputs, fit in better in the organic method of farming and may even have special characteristics such as nutrition, fragrance or colour,
Hybrid seeds on the other hand are developed for very specific situations and have precise water and nutritional requirements, generally on the higher side. They are also more prone to pest attacks and diseases. Besides being costlier, hybrids cannot be saved or shared with any benefit to the farmers. In fact, even where improved varieties are not hybrids, it is usually illegal for farmers to save or share such seeds. In some western countries, it is now illegal for farmers to share or sell even their local seed varieties on the grounds that the seeds are not certified!
However, all this does not mean that just about any indigenous seed should be freely used by farmers. As with hybrids, all varieties are not suitable for commercial cultivation. Many farmers save seeds selectively after seeing the vigour and growth of individual plants. This is an old tradition and is and needs to be continued.