The Asia and Pacific Seed Alliance (APSA), the China National Seed Trade Association (CNSTA), and the College of Agronomy and Biotechnology of China Agricultural University have joined forces to address gaps within the regional seed industry. This collaborative effort was solidified through the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) during a virtual ceremony held on June 29.
APSA President Dr. Manish Patel, in his opening remarks emphasized the shared objective of sustainable agriculture and the production of healthy food for the growing population.
"As seed trade associations, we have a common goal, and that's all about sustainable agriculture to produce healthy food for the growing population," stated Dr. Patel,
He went on to emphasize the need for the seed industry to address the significant challenges it faces in achieving this goal, highlighting the importance of talent and knowledge in meeting these challenges: "That's where I think the seed industry is seriously thinking about how to meet those challenges. And that's only possible with good talent on board, good knowledge in the industry."
Capacity building emerged as a crucial aspect for future success, according to Dr. Patel. "Capacity building is one of the strong pillars that will give us success in the coming years," he emphasized. The initiative being discussed is seen as instrumental in addressing the gaps in applied knowledge and enabling the industry to tackle the challenges effectively.
Dr. Patel acknowledged the gap between theoretical research and practical applications within universities. He noted, "At the universities, a lot of fundamental research is happening, fundamental academic activities are ongoing, but we see there is a gap between theoretical and practical applications."
Next, Weibo Song, President of CNSTA, addressed the ceremony. Underlining the significance of the University Connect Program and the role of CNSTA in promoting collaboration and talent development. Mr. Song noted that "As a national seed industry association, CNSTA is committed to providing services to its members, the government, and the seed industry, and creating a favorable business environment to promote China's seed trade and the development of China's seed industry.”
Highlighting the importance of integration between scientific research and the agricultural industry, Weibo Song emphasized the need for resource sharing and innovation cooperation between the public and private sectors. CNSTA has maintained close cooperation with various agricultural universities and research institutes, including China Agricultural University, to drive plant breeding innovation and ensure consistency in regulatory policies.
Weibo recognized China Agricultural University as a key institution in China's agricultural fields, contributing significantly to agricultural research and seed industry talent training. The university has nurtured numerous renowned breeders and seed industry experts.
Weibo stressed the importance of cultivating talents with an international perspective through multilateral exchanges with other countries and regions. He acknowledged the program's role in bridging gaps between academic courses and career training, providing students with practical vocational skills, and facilitating direct career pathways in the seed industry.
Finally, Prof. Zhaobin Dong, Associate Dean at the College of Agronomy and Biotechnology, China Agricultural University (CAU) took the floor.
"CAU has already established a comprehensive collaboration with CNSTA," said Prof. Zhaobin Dong, Associate Dean at CAU. "This collaboration has facilitated the exchange of expertise and provided our students with direct exposure to the industry in China."
Prof. Zhaobin Dong emphasized the importance of cultivating international talents to meet the emerging demands of the seed industry, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. "We recognize the significance of nurturing talented individuals who will drive innovation and progress in our region's seed industry," he stated.
Through the collaboration with CNSTA, CAU aims to strengthen the partnerships between academic institutes and seed companies. This will allow students to gain practical experience and develop a deep understanding of the intricacies of the seed sector, Prof. Zhaobin Dong explained.
"The program we have established is essential for nurturing talented individuals who can contribute to the seed industry," Prof. Zhaobin Dong added. "It provides our students with valuable practical experience and prepares them to tackle the challenges and drive innovation in this field."
This MoU represents the fourth agreement among a series of planned collaborations between APSA, national seed associations, and agriculture academic institutions in the Asia-Pacific region.
The first agreement was signed on March 4 during the Indian Seed Congress in Delhi, involving APSA, the National Seed Association of India (NSAI), and Gobind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture & Technology. This was followed by a virtual MoU signing ceremony on March 14, where APSA joined forces with the Thailand Seed Trade Association (THASTA) and the Agriculture and Agri-Food Business Development Unit of Khon Kaen University (AG-KKU).
Continuing the momentum, APSA signed an MoU with Northwest A & F University in China and the China Seed Association (CSA) on April 2. These collaborations aim to foster stronger relationships, exchange knowledge, and enhance the development of the seed industry.
Looking ahead, nine more agreements with other national seed associations and academic institutions are planned to be signed throughout the year, further expanding the network of partnerships and cooperation. Exciting developments lie ahead in the seed industry, and stakeholders are encouraged to stay tuned for future updates.