APSA Newsletter : March 2020

Quality Seed | Quality Life

March 2020 Newsletter

Spring to action 

 ...in the International Year of Plant Health #IYPH2020 


We hope and trust that everyone is  are all staying healthy and active whenever possible during this time.

First, please note that as of March 26, 2020, the APSA Secretariat Bangkok-based staff have all been working remotely. This is in accordance with COVID-19 containment guidelines mandated in Asia and around the world, which call for the implementation of social-distancing and minimizing unnecessary travel and human-to-human interactions. 

Our central email (apsa@apsaseed.org) continues to be checked, and monitored daily, and all inquiries will be addressed in a timely manner.

Please see additional APSA Secretariat contact information on our Covid-19 Resources page here.

(No time to read this? download the podcast)

Now, some important reminders and announcements from APSA:


 COVID-19 Pandemic 

Impacts on Asia-Pacific Seed Industry           

APSA stands with a number of international organizations that advocate for minimizing interruptions to international trade, and especially the movement of seeds and other vital agricultural inputs.

To address the urgency of the situation, and emphasize the need to maintain international food supply chains and seed trade facilities and services, APSA has issued an official statement, and conducted a joint Op-Ed with CropLife Asia, in addition to a letter to the ASEAN Secretary General.

Download all of our statements on our Covid-19 Resources Page here.

We continue to closely monitor the situation, and especially impacts on seed trade to and from the Asia-Pacific region.

Here's an infograph we developed. Please feel free to share on your social media feeds (right click, save image as) to spread knowledge and awareness, not fear and hysteria:

And here's a video campaign we initiated, the key message being: 'We produce food for you so so please ensure seeds are delivered to us'

Watch the video by clicking image to see many examples of the message in several languages from around the region. Please share the video too.  

Technical Affairs Updates 

  • APSA’s SIGs and SCs have been meeting regularly online for the past several years, and will continue to do so as usual, though some face-to-face aspects of our program will not be possible for the immediate time being
  • The APSA-WorldVeg Vegetable Breeding Consortium will continue as usual, though the Annual Workshop in May will be conducted as a live meeting, broadcast from WorldVeg Headquarters in Tainan. See below for more details. 
  • Members of APSA's Working Group of Integrated Vegetable Seed Companies (WIC) recently met to review the agenda for APSA midterm meeting. Key topics for discussion include action items from the last November meeting; drafting a Plant Breeding Innovation position; follow up actions for WIC Code of Conduct; Disease Nomenclature Working Group and brainstorming key topics/priorities to work on in 2021.
  • SIG Veg&Orn met on March 12 and our R&D Advisory Group met on March 20 to discuss a number of collaborative projects between APSA and the World Vegetable Center or National Science and Technology Development Agency, Thailand.
  • SC Intl Trade & Quarantine met on March 25 to discuss a number of updates, e.g. providing international industry input on the Draft Seed Bill 2019 in India, as well as working with ISF's Phytosanitary Committee toalign comments to NPPOs for WTO notifications about Thailand's proposed import conditions for pepper, tomato, eggplant and maize seeds for sowing.
  • Should you have any questions, please email APSA Technical Coordination Manager, Kuna.



APSA Midterm Meeting 

APSA’s Midterm meeting is scheduled for 2 and 3 April, and will be conducted entirely online for the first time. Participation is by invitation only, and we anticipate the meeting to be joined by 20 members of APSA's Working Group of Integrated Vegetable Seed Companies (WIC), who will log in from around the world. Stand by for updates. 


APSA-World Vegetable Center Vegetable Breeding Consortium

Registration for this year’s consortium is still open. See flyer below, and register now. The consortium offers members 12-month lead access to newly-developed lines shown at the annual workshop, which will be held on May 12, with online one-on-one chat appointments between consortium members and WorldVeg breeders on May 13 and 14, as per request. All benefits will remain as before. Consortium companies can request ten free seed acquisitions per year from WorldVeg, from July 1, and all members are offered a discount of US$600 from the membership fee.

APSA-WorldVeg Vegetable Breeding Consortium

Register Now



Asian Seed Congress 2020

To address a number of concerns members have raised about this year’s  venue, the APSA EC is currently assessing the situation and we will make an announcement as soon as a decision is made. In the meantime, if you have any urgent questions or concerns, please contact APSA Executive Director Dr. Kanokwan Chodchoey



ACRT 2 Postponed to 2021

Please note that APSA and Chia Tai Group have decided to postpone the second Asian Cucurbits Round Table, originally scheduled for July 2020, now planned for 2021. Stand by for more updates on this. 



Seed, plant breeding & cropping briefs from around the APSA region… and beyond

ISF Calls for information on seed supply impacts

The International Seed Federation will be partnering with other international organizations who represent various agricultural input sectors in an effort to keep agriculture high on the agenda of policy makers  …. 

IPPC Sec Gen issues statement on coronavirus, IYPH

“Obviously, this situation has altered the characteristics of the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) in 2020, but if anything, it raises even more the need to ensure that plants are protected from the ravages of plant pests. Ensuring a supply of fresh and wholesome food is more important than ever .… 

EU to fund biosecurity project in SE Asia

The European Union launched a €3.5 million regional project to bolster biosecurity measurers in the region ....  

Seed companies confirm commitments to seed supply and safety

  • Chia Tai Group Statement (link)

  • East-West Seed: Statement from Founder, Simon N. Groot (link); Statement from Management Board (link) & Comprehensive statement of measures (pdf)

  • HM.Clause (statement textHM Clause statement)

  • Bayer Crop Sciences: Coronavirus news feed updates (link)

  • BASF: Nutrition and Health business coronavirus  updates (link)

  • Syngenta: Actions on Covid-19 notice (link)

APSA IPR & Biodiversity report on seed legislation published

The report has now been published on the FAO website here.


Read these stories and more from around the region  

Global & regional



Govt exempts farm workers, agriculture companies in nationwide lockdown

On March 27, the government issued an order to effectively exempt “farm workers in the fields and farming operations by farmers, agencies engaged in procurement of agriculture products including MSPs, mandis notified by the state governments, inter and intra-state movement of harvesting and sowing related machines and manufacturing, packaging units of fertilisers, pesticides …” from the 21-day lockdown ordered from March 25 ….

Seed industry advocates for hassle-free movement or seeds, inputs 

Representatives of the Indian seed industry have been actively engaging central and state government reps to ensure there are no interruptions in the transport of seeds and other essential farm inputs across state borders during the ongoing lockdown. ….

In its letter, NSAI asked for the government to allow essential staff and workers at seed companies to continue functioning, while permitting hassle-free movement of seed crops from farmers’ fields to processing centers, between different processing centers, and from processing centers to distributors and retailers so that farmers can get seeds on time for kharif sowing. 

In its statement, the FSII also called for unrestricted flow of seeds and other essential farm inputs, proposing the use of special food lanes at national and state toll booths, as well as “check-posts and on highways where food and agricultural input delivery vehicles can pass unhindered and are not subjected to roadblocks which might have been put up to restrict movement of people and other materials to fight the virus”.

More India coronavirus impact, Rabi cropping news:

  • Indian cooperative relieved on government exemption: IndianCooperative.com report

  • Farmer labor shortage affects harvesting in Tamil Nadu: New Indian Express

  • Chili harvest affected by labor shortage in Andhra Pradesh: New Indian Express

  • Indian farmers association seeks waiver on loan interest, repayments: The Consortium of Indian Farmers Association (CIFA) on March 28 asked the government to issue a moratorium on loan repayments and interest waiver on crop loans, citing closure of shops, non-availability of pesticides and fertilizers and farm labor, reports the Times of India.

  • Crop prices slumping by as much as 50 percent: Prices of crops have slumped by between 16 and 50%, according to farmers accounts in three Indian States: Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. This is despite increased planting of Rabi crops due to high soil moisture content thanks to excess rains June to September 2019, a y-o-y increase of 10% to 165 million acres, reports Producer.com.

  • Winter crops in wheat-belt damaged by rain: Yahoo Finance: Unseasonable torrential rains and hailstorms have damaged the winter-planted crops of millions of Indian growers, inundating wheat, potato, chickpea and rapeseed farms in large parts of the fertile northern plains. 

  • Cropping exceeds target in rain-fed Sundargarh, Odisha: New Indian Express

  • Chana output in Madyha Pradesh to drop as farmers switch to wheat: Times of India

Read these stories and more from India 

China seed industry rallies as spring ploughing, planting & ag operations resume

The two national-level Chinese seed associations — China Seed Association (CSA) and China National Seed Trade Association (CNSTA) — have rallied members and stakeholders to cooperate in minimizing supply and market disruptions while ensuring seed supply within and to the world’s most populous country. 

As of the end of March, the China Seed Association confirmed that the situation in key areas was under control, and rapidly normalizing. Likewise, CNSTA had also issued a statement to seed industry stakeholders issued a joint statement with other agricultural products production, management and logistics enterprises and associations throughout the country …. Some Chinese seed industry events have been postponed or canceled …

Sanya breeding base resumes full operations

Thousands of breeders, scientists and technicians have returned from from all over China to resume critical work at the Nanfan Scientific and Research Breeding Base in Sanya, Hainan province. Operations had ceased for a period following quarantine and isolation measurers to contain the coronavirus outbreak …. 

Qingdao Seed Market resumes operations

Despite some initial logistical and supply hold-ups, seed production and operations in Qingdao resumed. Now in the peak season for supply and demand are peanut seeds, which are now being shipped nationwide …. 

CNSTA donates seeds to Linxi County

Member companies of the China National Seed Trade Association (CNSTA) have donated a substantial amount of quality seeds to poor farmers in Linxi County as part of ongoing poverty alleviation efforts at the height of the crucial spring ploughing period .… 

More spring ploughing, planting seed security updates

  • Ag operations, seed supply resumed in late February: Wuhu City 

  • Emergency funding flows to ensure spring seeds in Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture 

  • Fujian on track for spring ploughing, March with adequate seed and farm input supply 

  • Liaoning has sufficient rice, maize and soybean seeds for spring planting 

  • Harbin ready for spring ploughing

  • Jiangsu provincial seed regulations in effect from March 1 

  • Xiangfang Farmers get donated maize seeds, fertilizer:  Heilongjiang Seed Wholesale Market reps donated maize seed and fertilizer to farmers in Xiangfang District 

Read these stories and more from China 



Ministry of Ag eyes food exports, farm jobs & loans

The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is drafting 6 and 12 month export plans for food products, as a minister said  the country is expected to fill large orders, while maintaining sufficient domestic stocks

Thai rice exports get boost

The COVID-19 scare has boosted Thai rice exports, reports Xinhua via Khao Sod English, citing Chookiat Ophaswongse, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association … 

Enough food domestically

The Thaiger reported on March 26, citing the Ministry of Agriculture Economics, that “... production of key agricultural products like rice, fishery products, meat products, palm oil, cassava, coconut and sugarcane will not be affected …” 

Assistant agricultural minister quarantine, tests negative 

Thammanat Prompao told reporters he would spend 14 days in self-quarantine after he came in contact with a man who tested positive for the novel coronavirus strain on March 16, and then on March 17 he announced he tested ….

Thailand preparing to join CPTPP 

The Kingdom is advancing towards joining the 11 nation bloc of 500 million people, reports Bangkok Post. According to another report the IP chapter of CPTPP will oblige Thailand to join UPOV 1991, which is concerned with seeds and PVP.

Read these stories and more from Thailand 

Seed & fertilizer shops allowed to remain open during lock-down

 Pakistan’s Agriculture Secretary has confirmed that seed and fertilizer shops would remain open during a lock-down.  APSA has also seen a copy of an order from the Pakistani government, prioritizing the agriculture sector during this period.

Cotton seeds to be delivered to farmers doorsteps

Urdu Point reports that the Central Cotton Research Institute (CCRI) is offering to deliver cotton seeds to farmers’ doorsteps, and at recommended government prices …

Subsidies for certified seed, sowing equipment mechanization

Punjab government is gearing to launch a project worth Rs6 billion to promote mechanisation, usage of certified seed and responsible application of pesticides according to the quantity prescribed by the agricultural experts. …

 ‘Olive revolution’ underway: 

A target  to grow olives on 50,000 acres, with figures of current and expected growing, production capacity included in article. 

Read these stories and more from Pakistan




Department of Agriculture publishes advice notice

The Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment has published and is regularly updating a notice on its website, which includes up-to-date  information about agriculture services in Australia’s States and Territories … 

Dept of Agriculture is also taking special consideration in evaluating risks in vegetable seed movements, specifically reviewing eleven varieties in four families:

  • Apiaceae family (carrot, celery, parsley)

  • Brassicaceae family (cauliflower, cabbage)

  • Cucurbitaceae family (cucumber, gourd, melon)

  • Solanaceae family (capsicum, eggplant, tomato).

Farmers upbeat about returned rains, allay covid19 concerns, access to fertilizers, chemicals … 

Farmers offer nomads option to stay on land, farm ABC Australia … 

Seedlings, seeds selling out at nurseries nationwide … 

Read this story and more from Australia

Food producers, truck drivers cleared 

… for New Zealand Level 4 measures from March 25 onward, reports the New Zealand Herald

Ag Minister emphasizes food security is priority

'Of course we need food, and produce a lot of it, ' says Minister of Agriculture: New Zealand Herald

Truckers promise to ‘deliver the goods …. 

Read these stories and more from New Zealand

New Zealand


Farmers, agri-food workers exempt from Manila, Luzon quarantine 

To ensure the continued flow of food and essential farm goods during the”enhanced community quarantine,”lockdown declared for Manila and all of Luzon since mid March, recommendations from the Dept of Agriculture have been approved, as follows: 

  1. Allow all farming and fishing activities to continue;

  2. Exempt all healthy farmers and farm workers, fishers, and agri-business personnel;

  3. Allow agricultural supply stores /outlets and veterinary clinics to operate

  4. Reiterate unhampered movement of all supplies used for agriculture, including food packaging and manufacturing materials

  5. Reactivation of the Local Price Coordination Council (LPCC) to strengthen the price monitoring and enforcement (MC77)

  6. Upscaling KADIWA ni Ani at Kita in support for food availability, accessibility and price stability; and

  7. Support the DA program – Ahon Lahhat, Pagkain, Sapat (ALPAS kontra COVID-19

 ‘Food Lanes’ to facilitate transport accreditation during lockdown

To facilitate the flow of agri-goods to major demand  centers throughout a Manila and Luzon under lockdown — the DA has initiated a “Food Lane” special licensing service ….

 Funds to boost agricultural resilience, productivity

 The Department of Agriculture announced plans to secure P32 billion as a supplemental fund to expedite the implementation of food security measures. ...

Philippines DA assures enough food for 9 months 

The Department of Agriculture has assured those in quarantined areas that there will be enough food to go around for several months; the food will continue to be available at public markets and through outlets of the DA-initiated “KADIWA ni Ani at Kita” program, according to the DA. …. 

Urban gardening to boost domestic food supply

Agriculture Secretary William Dar has instructed the Agricultural Training Institute and the Bureau of Plant Industry to improve collaboration with local government units to promote urban agriculture …. 

Read these and more from the Philippines

Indonesia govt drafting regulation for regional lockdowns to ensure open access of supplies

A minister has said the central government is expediting drafting work on a regulation to stipulate the requirements and procedures for declaring regional lockdowns, specifically to urge for open access for distribution of supplies during the quarantine period. …

10 million palm oil farmers could be impoverished by total lockdown

Some farmers have appealed to President Joko Widodo not to impose a total lockdown. Widodo said confining people to their homes would not be his priority, but he would focus on urging governors, regents and mayors to provide basic food supplies for people on low incomes …. 

Onion, garlic shortages 

After onion shipments from China had been reduced in recent months, the price of onion has reportedly rose by a factor of 10, while garlic has reportedly rose by 50% before stabilizing … 

50 trillion Rupiah in micro finance to stimulate food crop cultivation

IDR 50 trillion (about 3 billion US$) worth of funds will be dispursed to stimulate cultivation of rice, corn and soybeans, horticulture such as chillies, fruits, as well as plantation commodities such as coffee, cocoa and livestock commodities … 

Dutch Indonesian cooperation in horticulture  via EWS

East West Seed Indonesia (EWINDO) received a visit from the Directorate General of Horticulture, Ministry of Agriculture (Kementan) Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands, Jan-Kees Goet at the head office and main facilities of EWINDO in Purwakarta, West Java. …. 

Read these stories and more from Indonesia




Individual rice seed germination training 

The Hongcheon-gun Agricultural Technology Center replaced the rice seed germination annual meeting with individual training for 30 farmers. In order to prevent the spread of corona19, the rice seed germination festival was conducted as individual training, not as a collective training.

Spring flowers bloom bring up mood as rapeseed harvest nears

Gyeyang-gu, Incheon, is in full bloom of oilseed rape in a large-scale lush complex that is 10 times the size of a soccer stadium in 106-1 Seoseo-dong.  Rapeseed seeds were sown and managed in October of last year, and in April, it is expected to see the yellow color of rapeseed.

Korea seedsman interview on Covid resilience through seeds, news here

Seed more valuable than gold

Comprehensive review of Korea seed industry and quantitatively how/which seed is more valuable in weight than gold, including genetic resources, institutions, link here

'Intensive Investigations' on illegal seeds

Gyeonggi-do Special Police Corp. will conduct intensive investigations on domestic seed producers and importers, looking into the illegal distribution of seeds through seedlings and vegetable seeds sold via online shopping malls and blogs, as well as the sale of seeds that have passed their expiration date.. News in Korean language here.

Peach worm warming infestation story in Koren here

Read this story and more from Korea

Myanmar ‘has enough food’

The President Spokesman’s office has offered assurance as the passage of goods across the China-Myanmar border had stopped and reports the India-Myanmar border had also been closed due to fears of the spread of the Coronavirus. 

Read this story and more fom Myanmar



Food supply secure in wake of Covid and swine flu

The Masan Group Joint Stock Company has joined heads with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development since the African swine flu to minimize food supply impacts through strengthening its supply chain network to ensure stable supply of necessities at stable prices….

Demand for rice surges in Hanoi

According to a report by Nongnghiep, the Vietnam National Seed Group (Vinaseed), a major rice supplier with some 2,000 distribution points in Hanoi has reported an increase in demand for rice in local markets. In March, the company has increased staff and distribution agents …. 

Winter-spring cropping ‘a victory’

 Through field visits of MARD mission and reports from localities showed that the Winter - Spring crop 2019 - 2020 in the South Central region and The Central Highlands has achieved a comprehensive victory ….

Vietnamese rice flourishing thanks to good varieties

 A report suggests that Vietnamese rice has an advantage due to varieties with high yields, short cycles while competitors suffer from drought, low quality…


Soc Trang specialty rice to the next level

Efforts to expand the Soc Trang delta rice brand (ST25) was recently voted world’s best) expanding breeding and cultivation in Delta region

Breaking down salt stress for rice cultivation

Bao Vinhlong reports on capacity-building efforts by the Agriculture Department of Can Tho University, where research has contributed to improved knowledge and understanding of soil salinity challenges and solutions in rice cultivation in dry and saline conditions. ….

Rice seed multiplication in An Phong

An Phong Experimental Production Farm (Dong Thap Plant Joint Stock Company) has produced and restored more than 8 hectares of rice seeds of various varieties…. 

Vietnam’s popular durian variety thrives with IP protection

Highlighting the background of Vietnam’s famous Ri6 variety of durian, which has enjoyed trademark protection from Vietnam’s National Office of Intellectual Property since 2002. The variety was developed by breeder, Mr. Sau Ri in the 1990s and had won….

Seedless grape breeding in Ninh Thuan

Grape growers in Ninh Thuan are developing new, seedless grape varieties to  compete with imported grapes. Among the varieties include Ha Den grapes, which in their second year of trials, have an average output of  ….

Leaf mosaic virus inflicts cassava crops

Nearly 2,600ha of cassava (cassava) infected with the leaf mosaic virus, the raw material area of Quang Ngai province is in danger … Latest statistics of the Department of Crop Production and Plant Protection - Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (Agriculture and Rural Development) of Quang Ngai province, …. 

Drought woes

Five provinces, including Kien Giang, Ben Tre, Tien Giang, Ca Mau and Long An, have declared a drought and salt emergency. Compared to the historical salinity drought of 2015-2016, this year's drought season has far exceeded.  …. 

Forestry planting in Thai Nguyen

In 2020, the whole Thai Nguyen province plans to plant 4,000 hectares of new forests, a decrease of more than 1,000 hectares compared to 2019, in which mainly grown quality trees such as acacia and cinnamon. …. 

7 new acacia hybrids for forest

The Research Institute for Seed and Biotechnology (Vietnam Academy of Forestry Sciences) has successfully selected 7 new hybrid acacia varieties …. 

Thai Binh Seed Group holds annual meeting

...in which it reviewed its works in 2015 to 2020 and laid out strategy and targets for 2020-2025 period. News here.

Read these stories and more from Vietnam

Asian Seed: Volume 26, Q1 Issue

Seed Quote of the Month

“ Knowledge cultivates your seeds, and does not sow in your seeds.”

― Kahlil Gibran



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