BANGKOK, THAILAND: November 15, 2022: Following a two-year hiatus, the Asian Seed Congress is back, beckoning more than 1,100 delegates from more than 50 countries convening in the Thai Capital for the premier seed industry meeting this week
Held 14–18 November, the 2022 Asian Seed Congress is co-organized by the Asia and Pacific Seed Alliance (APSA) and the Thai Seed Trade Association (THASTA), in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Thailand (DoA) and the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) as part of the National Organizing Committee.
INAUGURATION: Left to right: Dr. Kanokwan Chodchoey (APSA Executive Director), Mr. Wichai Laocharoenpornkul (APSA President), Mr. Rapibhat Chandarasrivongs (Department of Agriculture Director General), Dr. Boonyanath Nathwong (THASTA President) and Dr. Sarun Sumriddetchkajorn (NSTDA Acting Executive Vice President of Research and Development)
During the Inauguration Ceremony on Tuesday (November 15) morning at the Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorldm Mr. Rapibhat Chandarasrivongs (DOA Director General), Dr. Boonyanath Nathwong (THASTA President), Wichai Laocharoenpornkul (APSA President) and Dr. Sarun Sumriddetchkajorn (NSTDA Acting Executive Vice President of Research and Development) presented their respective organizations' strategies and positionings to develop Thailand as a global leader in tropical seed production and trade.
“With delegates coming from different parts of the world, the Asian Seed Congress 2022 in Bangkok only proves that Thailand is ready to welcome everyone again after the pandemic. The focus on our country’s seed industry that this event provides will bring us closer to our goal of reaffirming our status as a regional seed hub,” THASTA President Dr. Boonyanath Nathwong said as the head of the National Organizing Committee of this event.
APSA president Wichai Laocharoenpornkul, who is also a member of THASTA and concludes his two-year presidency during APSA's AGM on November 17, reflected: "As we have learned over the past three years, the traditional or normal way of doing things is not sustainable by itself, and in order for us to survive and thrive we have to understand the emerging trends and adapt accordingly
"This is the ideal platform for us to come together and discuss these trends, challenges and opportunities we have and what needs to be done to move forward, fulfill our mission and commitment to farmers and thus of all our families."
The Asian Seed Congress is the region’s most significant seed industry event. Hosting rotates yearly among member countries. The for-members and by-invitation-only event features business meetings, entertainment, a trade exhibition, technical sessions and APSA’s General Assembly meeting.
This is the fifth time Bangkok has hosted the event, and 7th time for Thailand, with previous editions held in the Kingdom in 1994 (Chiang Mai), 1999, 2003, 2009, 2011 (Pattaya) and 2017.
The ASC has also been held in Manila (three times), Kuala Lumpur (twice), Brisbane, Shanghai, Macau, Kaohsiung, Goa, New Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chiba, Kobe, Jakarta, Bali, Seoul, Incheon and Ho Chi Minh City.
Representatives attend from commercial and non-governmental seed-related organizations, government agencies and research institutes active in R&D, seed trade policy and standard harmonization efforts.
Discussions on this year's agenda will cover the latest challenges and developments in plant breeding innovation (including New Breeding Techniques, gene-editing and biotechnology); digitalization trends; enforcement and protection of intellectual property rights; plant variety protection, phytosanitary standards and market trends.
Trade data indicates that demand for quality seed in and from the Asia Pacific has been robust over coming out of the pandemic. Thailand is positioned as a regional leading producer, processor and supplier of quality seeds.
Thailand, ASEAN as the hub and heart of global seed supply
Thailand is a leading country in Southeast Asia as a regional seed producer and exporter, with ambitions to develop into a global seed supply hub. Seeing fruition to this “Thailand Seed Hub” strategy will require strong cooperation between and dedicated support from both the public and private sectors.
Mr. Rapibhat Chandarasrivongs
Director General, Department of Agriculture
The Department of Agriculture is one of the lead agencies involved in driving the Thailand's Seed Hub policy by pushing Thailand to be the World Leader of Tropical Seeds. This involves two strategic master plans on 1) Crops to increase competitiveness such as corn and vegetables and 2) Good quality seeds for sustainability such as rice, field crops, forage crops and soil nourishing plants, and there are four strategies for driving as follows:
1. Technological research and development: focus on research and development for safe plant breeding with modern biotechnology, develop analytical technologies such as the inspection of GMO crops, identification of species or pests, seed enhancement technology such as seed coating or seed dressing technology via PGPR (plant growth promoting rhizobacteria) and nutrients to produce high-quality, carbon neutral farming research and GHG-free farming certification, and the preservation of good trait genetics that is in market demand in both conventional breeding and modern breeding biotechnology as well as the creation of a modern Thai plant and plant genetic resources database. In addition, DOA also focuses on the preservation of the community's native plant genetics, which farmers can operate on their own through technology transfer in order to be used to improve good plant breeding and increase genetic diversity for sustainability.
2. Improving laws, rules, regulations of the government sector by amending and improving the Plant Variety Protection Act (1999) to be more modern. Updating rules and notices relating to transgenic plants and plants derived from modern biotechnology under the Plant Quarantine Act and expedite the enactment of specific laws to regulate the organisms derived from modern biotechnology according to the draft Biodiversity Act and prepare secondary legislation to supervise all seed activities.
3. Production and marketing promotion: The DOA intends to certify private seed health lab accreditation in order to legally certify pesticide-free seeds and issue phytosanitary certificates. Electronic (e-Phyto) through the new online service system of the Department of Agriculture (NEW DoA-NSW) deals with the import, export, and transit of the plant checkpoint as well as developing infrastructure and logistics to facilitate entrepreneurs and promote the country's seed business trading industry. There is also a seed production plan with communities and entrepreneurs to get fair and reasonable seed prices for small farmers.
4. Personnel building and development: DOA has cooperation with the Thai Seed Trade Association and other private sectors in terms of seed quality and sanitation, seed purity, and seed free of GMs, such as a proficiency testing program (PT) between public and private laboratories, seed quality inspection workshops such as those sponsored by the Asia and Pacific Seed Association (APSA) and the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) which include training between public and private labs.
The National Science and Technology Development Agency NSTDA is another one of the lead organizations involved in driving the Seed Hub policy, which it does by promoting and developing research in seed technology.
Dr. Sarun Sumriddetchkajorn, Acting Executive Vice President of Research and Development
At NSTDA explained that as part of “The Seed Cluster” which is an integrated collaboration between government agencies, the private sector, and educational institutions, NSTDA supports 5 missions as follows:
1. Research and Development: Creation of knowledge in terms of technology and innovation throughout the seed chain, for example:
• The establishment of technologies for monoclonal antibody production and diagnostic test kit development against plant pathogens for the seed industry. This project is conducted by the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology or BIOTEC.
• Providing genomic technology for diagnosis, disease detection and purity of hybrid seeds for seed export as well as the use of genomic technology in breeding. This allows private entities to hasten their seed development and export. This project is undertaken by the National Omics Center or NOC.
2. Infrastructure: Plant Germplasm Bank for long-term security and working collection by collaboration with Universities; Khonkean University, Kasetsart University and Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna.
3. Human resource development activities to develop more breeders and seed producers.
4. Technology transfer to private sectors and farmers as well as Food industry.
5. International collaboration: Exchange technology and information on the seed market, field trial and business matching of the private sector.
Likewise, the private sector, through national and regional seed enterprise representation, plays a critical rule in seeing through the success of the policies and strategy.
The kingdom’s main seed industry representative, THASTA has been part of the Committee previously called upon by the DOA in the effort to make THAILAND as the region’s Seed Hub.
Among its efforts to support this major project by DOA, THASTA organizes the “Thai International Seed Trade” annual event in Bangkok that brings focus on Thailand seed trade industry. This event invites seed trade companies and partner organizations from around the world to showcase the latest developments in the production and trade of seeds in Thailand.
As a regional seed association, APSA through its various regional and global platforms and international resource pool has a major role in seeing through the fruition of this strategy.
And its flagship event, the Asian Seed Congress, is one of the main platforms to bring together key actors and stakeholders so as to advance the goals of the sector, and thus ensure that Thailand sustains its position as Southeast Asian seed capital moving forward, thus ensuring the kingdom can endure its status as the premier global tropical seed supply hub in due course.