APAC policy harmonization, seed movements priority at 10th Phytosnaitary Expert Consultation

APAC policy harmonization, seed movements priority at 10th Phytosnaitary Expert Consultation

MANILA: Officers from 15 National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs) are gathered in the Philippines’ capital this week to collaborate in harmonization and implementation of measures to ensure smooth seed trade regionally and globally.

The 10th Phytosanitary Expert Consultation is organized by the Asia and Pacific Seed Alliance (APSA), this year in collaboration with the Philippine Seed Industry Association (PSIA) and the Philippines Bureau of Plant Industries.



Also supporting this year’s consultation are the United States Department of Agriculture and Croplife Asia.

The annual consultation serves as a key forum to bring stakeholders from the public and private sectors to the table to discuss pressing phytosanitary challenges, developments and exchange progress updates from the field, especially in the implementation of relevant International Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures or ISPMs.

Key topics to be addressed this year include the import of small quantity seed lots for research purposes, identification of pest-free areas for seed production, and harmonizing requirements for import and export phyto certification.

Welcoming participants to Manila, APSA Executive Director, Francine Sayoc laid the foundation of mutual interest: “Seed is the starting point of food production. In our globalized world, seeds must be able to move across borders so farmers can have access to them, and plant breeders and researchers can continue their vital scientific work to improve crops that thrive in today’s challenging environment,” she said.

“Collectively, we share the responsibility to ensure that healthy seeds circulate worldwide,” she added.

Addressing the meeting remotely from India, APSA President Dr. Manish Patel reiterated the importance of multilateral cooperation in regional seed production and trade: “Due to diverse conditions, we cannot produce all seeds at will in each of our countries. Certain seed species must be produced in specific areas, and we cannot overlook this. The challenge lies in ensuring that these seeds move from one area to another without compromising biosecurity.”


Likewise, Mr. Khalil Hamid of the United States Department of Agriculture, appealed for the harmonization of related policies in his welcoming remarks.

 “We are facing some really considerable challenges, specifically in this region where more than half of the world populations resides. . . If we don't harmonize policies that enable the trade of seeds, we are in for hard times ahead,” he warned.  

In his welcome remarks, BPI Director, Dr. Gerald Glenn F. Panganiban insisted that the dynamic landscape of global agriculture demands a proactive approach, “necessitating consistent engagement among stakeholders.”

Considering the myriad challenges of producing safe seeds with respect to the changing climate, the director praised the PEC forum and platform in facilitating ongoing discussions and thus enable adaption to the evolving regulatory environment.

“Our primary objective this year is to improve seed production and quality while streamlining cross-border seed distribution. We also acknowledge the role of both the private and public sectors in achieving this endeavor,” he concluded.  

After summarizing the outcomes of previous consultations, Dr Mary Ann Sayoc, Chair, APSA Standing Committee for International Trade & Quarantine summed up the consultation’s main objective “to serve as a platform for exchanging best practices, learning from each other, and sharing experiences, ideas, challenges, and solutions related to phytosanitary measures”.

Essential to success  will be building trust through public private partnerships to “promote the international movement of seeds, ensuring farmers’ access to quality seeds.”

Concluding the opening morning’s formal proceedings was a keynote speech by Dr. Derek W. Barchenger, World Vegetable Center Pepper Breeder and Scientist, focused on how to maximize the capacity of Research and Development by facilitating germplasm seed movement

Dr, Barchenger underlined a strong case for biodiversity and germplasm conservation through utilization, which he said is primarily achieved through crop improvement and breeding.

“Sustainable agriculture plays a crucial role in meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals. By developing more resistant and tolerant crop varieties, farmers can reduce pesticide usage. Additionally, high-yielding disease-resistant varieties contribute to increased crop production, ensuring better food security,”  he concluded.

The consultation proceeded with presentations from delegates from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam and several international stakeholder organizations.

A comprehensive summary of proceedings will be circulated through APSA’s Standing Committee for International Trade & Quarantine, with key quotes and highlights shared through APSA’s social media and Asian Seed Magazine.