Seed Industry Representatives Attend FAO’s Global Conference on Sustainable Plant Production
Taking place in early November 2022 in Rome, the Global Conference on Sustainable Plant Production was organized by the FAO as part of the ISF Midterm Meetings and attended by representatives of the global seed sector.
In his opening speech, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu highlighted the need for science-based strategies, and the importance of farmers and seed to achieving Sustainable Development Goals. "Tomorrow's agriculture will need to produce more food with a lower environmental footprint - this means producing more with less. We cannot continue 'business as usual' - we need to get on a technology-driven sustainable track." said Qu.
ISF Secretary General Michael Keller thanked the FAO for including the private sector in its actions and workflow. He went on to say "Our journey to sustainability and resilience is based on efficiency and innovation ... We are working with farmers on the ground. We are looking for solutions together - and there is no solution without science and innovation."
ISF Midterm Meetings took place in Rome
The ISF Midterm Meetings, held in Rome, were attended by over 250 delegates from the global seed sector. A key objective of the meetings was to progress the organization's Key Strategic Objectives (KSOs), which included a lively two-day session of the Board of Directors.
Secretaries general from various countries spoke with FAO Deputy Director General Beth Bechdol at the meeting of the Advisory Group of National Seed Association.
FAO Global Conference on Green Development Industries: Report
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has published a report from its FAO Global Conference on Green Development of Seed Industries event held last year. APSA Executive Director Dr. Kanokwan Chodchoey presented during a session dedicated to the theme of "Seed systems" that took place on 4-5 November 2021. Titled "Seed enterprise development and international trade", the session was co-chaired by Keshavulu Kunusoth and Shaun Ferris and supported by the rapporteurs Catherine Langat and Hélène Khan Niazi. The session included seven presentations and concluded with a panel discussion that was facilitated by Niels Louwaars and included Dr. Kanokwan Chodchoey.
The FAO book with the Proceedings of the FAO Global Conference on Green Development of Seed Industries is now available at http://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/cc1220en. The direct link to the PDF is at: http://www.fao.org/3/cc1220en/cc1220en.pdf.
We ask you to kindly spread the word about this new publication through your contacts and networks, using the document DOI: https://doi.org/10.4060/cc1220en
GB9 in October in India Negotiations to resume after GB9 on an enhanced Multilateral System for Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) of genetic resources
October 3: The 9th session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which took place in New Delhi on 19-24 September 2022, concluded with an agreement to restart discussions on enhancing the functioning of the Multilateral System of the Treaty and the implementation of Article 9 of the Treaty which addresses Farmers' Rights.
First Vice President of the International Seed Federation, Santosh Attavar, remarked that: “we need to continue to strengthen our collaboration on food systems towards a healthier, more sustainable, equitable and resilient seed production and food systems. We are convinced that this can be achieved through continued cooperation among the farmers, the private sector and the public seed sector and we are convinced that the International Treaty is the most suitable tool to ensure facilitated access and benefit sharing of genetic resources, which are critical in ensuring food and nutritional security.”
The seed sector remains willing to work with the Parties to find effective solutions for a comprehensive and meaningful enhancement of the Multilateral System, and strongly believes that the Multilateral System of the Treaty is the best means of handling Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) related to plant breeding.
WTO Trade Dialogue on seeds: “Improved Seed Trade; Unlocking Global Food Security”, September 22: A panel of experts joined a WTO Trade Dialogue on Food webinar to discuss the most urgent topics in international food trade and the role of the seed sector in ensuring global food security. Attending the webinar were Marco van Leeuwen, Naomi Stevens, and Michael Keller from the ISF alongside Maximo Torero from FAO, Edwini Kessie, from the WTO, and Alice Ingabire from World Benchmarking Alliance. View webinar on Youtube
Alleged IP infringement with MNCs: August 15: Corteva Agriscience is suing Bayer CropScience LP and Monsanto Company (“Bayer”) for alleged infringement of Intellectual Property (IP) rights. Seed World reported that the lawsuit is regarding a patent for the herbicide resistance technology of the AAD-1 gene, which is used in Enlist Corn. Source.
FAO scales up fertilizer procurement for Ethiopia: August 8: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is utilizing a US$10 million loan from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund to speed up procurement and delivery of crucial agricultural inputs to farmers in Ethiopia through to the end of August 2022, specifically 19 000 tonnes of fertilizer were procured with plans to provide a total 60,000 tonnes to Tigray. Source.
FAO Food Index on the ‘rebound’ in July: August 5: The FAO Food Price Index averaged 140.9 points in July, representing a 8.6 percent drop from June. Nonetheless, food prices as indicated by the Index, were still 13.1 percent higher than in July 2021. Source.
Canada, Japan inject millions into FAO grain storage relief: August 2: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has launched a US$ 40 million (CA$ 52 million) Canada-funded project to further address grain storage shortages in Ukraine.
The initiative will allow storage of an additional 2.4 million tonnes of grain, and complements $17 million recently provided by Japan to cover 1 million tonnes of grain storage. Source
ISTA’s first Asian president: Dr. Keshavulu Kunusoth, India is the first person from the Asian region elected as President of the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA), which is based in Switzerland Dr Keshavulu Kunusoth, India took over as the President of ISTA on May 11, 2022 at the 33rd ISTA Congress -2022 held in the historical Egyptian city of Cairo.
Dr Keshavulu will be ISTA President for the period 2022-25 It is a significant mark in the history of ISTA as he is the first person from the Asian region to be elected as President of the ISTA.
Dr Keshavulu holds a Master’s degree (Agriculture) and Ph.D. in Seed Science & Technology from India and undertook post-doctoral research at the University of California, Davis, USA. He has over 25 years of professional experience and expertise in management, seed sector development, strategy, seed business and quality assurances, research management, policy support and regulations for agricultural development and building capacities and capabilities for agricultural food production.
At present, Dr Keshavulu is serving in the government in the position of stewardship leadership for Telangana State Seed and Organic Authority with additional responsibility for Telangana State Seeds Development Corporation Ltd (Public Seed Company). Dr Keshavulu is also a Designated Authority for implementation of International (OECD) Seed Certification in India. He has contributed to the Telangana State becoming known as the Seed Capital of India and the focus on Telangana State as a Global Seed Hub by providing a strategic and scientific vision that enables access of quality seeds to the farmers with well adopted improved crop varieties. This is being facilitated through quality seed production and certification of seeds supplied to Indian states besides facilitating exports to other countries. In addition, Dr Keshavulu has been supporting private/public partnerships to ensure the establishment of robust seed industries delivering quality affordable seeds of preferred staple and commercial crops that are fit for purpose in the farming systems and providing enabling policies for diverse seed systems in India. These are helping to mainstream cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary approaches to scale up results in order to deliver context-specific solutions to small-scale farmers.
ISTA is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1924 and based in Zurich, Switzerland. The vision of ISTA is “uniformity in seed testing worldwide’ and with the objectives of developing, adopting and publishing standard procedures for sampling and testing of seeds; promoting uniform application of these procedures for evaluation of seeds moving in international trade besides supporting domestic trade; and promotion of seed science research and
education across the globe thereby making a valuable contribution to global food security towards achieving Zero Hunger by 2030 (SDG Goal #2 of UN).
ISTA is having a global network of more than 243 member laboratories and more than 400 technologists and scientists working around the globe on updating and developing rules for international seed sampling and testing. These are a competent and energetic group of seed scientists and analysts from 83 countries/distinct economies. The ISTA membership is a diverse collaboration of seed scientists and analysts from universities, research centers and seed testing laboratories in the public sector as well as from the private seed industry around the world.
It is a matter of pride and honor that Dr Keshavulu is the first person from the Asia region to become the President of an internationally reputed seed organization i.e., ISTA with a mission to disseminate seed knowledge through modern technologies and innovative approaches to seed quality assurance towards sustainable seed as well as food production systems.
Dr Keshavulu is a globally esteemed seed scientist, known for his distinct services towards the development of sustainable seed systems, Seed sector development and international seed trade and food security. He had worked in various capacities in Public Agriculture Universities, Government and has been associated with national and international organizations through which he has made significant contributions to international seed cooperation and also policy framework for agriculture development at the government level.
Dr. Keshavulu as a Professor and University Head at the State Agricultural University made significant contributions in the areas of seed biology, plant genetic resources, production, variety identification and certification, DUS testing and seed storage besides teaching various courses on seed science and technology.
He has provided strategic vision and leadership to the Telangana State Seed Certification Authority for domestic and OECD seed certification and Telangana State Seeds Corporation, both the organizations resulted in exemplary growth in seed supply chain and marketing and supplying for more than 10 states of India and also seed exports. He was instrumental in initiating the International OECD Seed Certification for the first time in India. He facilitated the export of seeds under OECD seed schemes to different countries from India, notable progress in the history of the Indian Seed Industry.
Dr. Keshavulu was one of the strategic members of USAID projects on seed systems in Southeast Asian and East African Countries. He has been associated with several international organizations such as International Seed Testing
Association (ISTA), FAO, OECD Seed Schemes, International Seed Federation (ISF), and Indo-German Bilateral Project on Seed Sector Development, European Equivalence on seeds, UPOV etc. for seed sector development. He has also represented the Government of India in the OECD Seed Schemes as well as ISTA.
Dr Keshavulu has organized several national and international capacity-building programs, for several national and international seed committees and has provided advisory services on seed policy-related aspects. He has published more than 100 research articles and abstracts, books, technical bulletins/ descriptors and reports, and training manuals in nationally and internationally reputed publications.
Keshavulu has been recognized as a successful seed scientist and received several awards including the Global CEO Award for the year 2018, Seed Policy Leadership Award in 2020 and Dr M. S. Swaminathan Award for Environment Protection in 2022 in recognition of his outstanding contributions to agriculture development in general and seed sector development in particular.
Dr Keshavulu has been associated with ISTA since 2007 and actively involved ISTA activities, organized and attended several ISTA workshops/meetings, Dr Keshavulu was a member at large in the ISTA Executive Committee from 2016-19 and the Vice-President from 2019-22. He led the successful organization of the 32nd ISTA Congress-2019 in Hyderabad, India. The first ISTA Congress to be held in Asia.
The Asia-Pacific region has the fastest-growing seed market in the world which amounted to about USD 22.91 billion in 2021 and is estimated to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.10 % or 35.41 billion USD by 2026. The seed industry in the region is developing at a significant rate due to the growing demand for food and feed, and as farmers begins to purchase seed because of all year-round availability and more consistent quality, in addition to using farmer-saved seed. The driving factors of seed trade in the region are favorable climatic conditions, increased demand for seeds from other countries, the presence of major players, and adaptation of the latest technologies.
In this connection, Dr Keshavulu's leading role in ISTA is a great opportunity for the Asian region for further development of the regional seed sector in terms of improving timely access of quality seeds to the farmers, strengthening the capacities of seed quality assurance systems, enhancing the seed trade, opportunities for seed exports and global networking of regional seed industries through OECD, ISF, UPOV, FAO, SAARC etc.
As a President of ISTA, Dr Keshavulu wishes to accomplish the mission of ISTA and spread the knowledge of ISTA across the world in general and Asia-Pacific in
particular. His vision for further strengthening the seed industry in the region in terms of harmonizing seed policies, developing adequate infrastructure for seed multiplication and testing, reinforcing seed quality assurance systems and increasing smallholder farmer income and meeting the challenge of food security and fighting for #ZeroHunger (SDG Goal 2)
Indonesia hosted 15th EAPVP Annual Meeting online: The Centre for Plant Variety Protection & Agricultural Permit Ministry of Agriculture of Indonesia on July 14 hosted the 15th annual meeting of the East Asia Plant Variety Protection Forum (EAPVPF) – International Seminar on PVP System. The meeting, held virtually, was attended by delegates from the ASEAN Plus Three countries; namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam plus China, Korea and Japan. Representatives from UPOV, SEMAE, Naktuinbouw, CIOPORA, APSA also attended as well as invitees from related Indonesian government organizations, research institutes, universities, seed companies and consultants. The meeting’s agenda including two main sessions: the first focused on Benefits of the UPOV PVP system for farmers (UPOV) and the Importance of PVP in Indonesia (Center for Plant Variety Protection and Agricultural Permit, Indonesia), which was followed by a Panel Discussion on the benefits of PVP for farmers, covering perspectives from farmer representatives and MAFF Japan. The second session focused on the: UPOV EDV (Essentially Derived Varieties) concept, which featured discussions on CIOPORAS Viewpoint on EDV (CIOPORA); the Concept of EDV in UPOV (UPOV); the Importance of EDV Concept in Indonesia (PVP Commission, Indonesia) and APSA’s perspective on EDV (APSA). For documents and more details, see: Ministry of Agriculture of Indonesia held EAPVPF International Seminar on PVP System | Report of the Forum Activities | The East Asia Plant Variety Protection Forum
Rising temperatures ‘overestimated’, lower snow loss rate forecast for Asia: July 16: Chinese researchers published in Nature have concluded that future temperature and total evaporation growth rates in Asia are overestimated by 3.4–11.6% and −2.1–13.0%, respectively. Read study here.
WorldVeg’s online nutrition portal: July 12: The World Vegetable Center’s Nutrition portal “allows you to search for the phytonutrient content of common and indigenous vegetables or learn more about nutrition in vegetables and meal planning with interactive games.” Check it out here.
ISTA updates seed-borne pest list: July 11: The International Seed Testing Association Reference Pest List (ISTA-RPL) has been updated (version 9; release 2022-07-11) with seven fruit trees of the Rosaceae family (almond, apple, Apricot, cherry, peach, pear, plum).The ISTA-RPL summarizes scientific knowledge on the possible dissemination of pests through seeds in non-vegetable plant species, and is centered on seed-borne and seed-contaminating pests (bacteria, fungi, oomycetes, viruses, nematodes). The project covers more than 50 non-vegetable species from 25 botanical families, including cereals, legumes, oilseeds, forest trees, and fruit trees. The ISTA-RPL will be updated regularly as soon as a list is finalized. Click here.
IPPC update on contaminated containers, phyto risks: July 8: The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has published a report by the Secretariat of the International Plant Protection Commission (IPPC) providing a summary of the activities undertaken by the Sea Containers Task Force over the past five years. It includes targeted measures to address specific issues related to pest contamination of sea containers, as well as recommendations to reduce phytosanitary risk in the sea containers pathway. You can download the report here: https://doi.org/10.4060/cb9533en
OECD moves forward with hemp standards: During the 2022 Annual Meeting of the OECD Seed Schemes, which took place 13–17 June 2022 in Tallinn, Estonia, it was agreed to move forward with OECD hemp seed certification standards as proposed by an Ad-Hoc Working Group on Hemp. Delegates agreed to integrate the minimum standards into the text of the Crucifer Seed and other Oil and Fibre Species Scheme. Delegates also discussed ongoing efforts to determine appropriate isolation distances appropriate for monoecious, and dioecious as well as to continue to work on standards for hybrid as well as feminized hemp seed. Asian Seed will follow up when the specific standards have been finalized and published formally.
OECD & FAO publish Agricultural Outlook 2022-31 report: June 29: The OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2022-2031 underscores the crucial role of additional public spending and private investment in production, information technology and infrastructure as well as human capital to raise agricultural productivity. The report notes that “Prices of agricultural products have been driven upward by “. . . COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting supply and trade disruptions, poor weather in key suppliers, and rising production and transportation costs, which have been further exacerbated recently by uncertainties regarding agricultural exports from Ukraine and Russia . . .” suggesting “These rising prices of food, fertilizer, feed and fuel, as well as tightening financial conditions are spreading human suffering across the world,” More information on the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook is available here
‘Wild ride’ but ‘back to the new normal’ says outgoing ASTA Chair: June 28: A wild ride is exactly how Brad May, chair of the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), described his year on the board,” reports Seed World on their coverage of ASTA’s annual Leadership Conference in Washington D.C at the end of June.. “We’re getting back to the new normal,” said May in his address to the conference, which he also talked about Covid-19, Ukraine, and various initiatives and advocacy priorities of ASTA.. During the conference, three positions on ASTA’s board in the coming year were confirmed: Jim Schweigert is ASTA Chair; David Armstrong, 1st Vice-Chair, and Dan Foor, 2nd Vice-Chair.
Read full report here. ASTA on June 29 tweeted words of gratitude: “Thank you for your service, Brad May! We appreciate your dedication and volunteerism to ASTA! You will be missed. . .” The new chair, Jim Schweigert, a third-generation seedsman, is President of Gro Alliance, “the largest independently-owned contract corn and soybean seed production company in North America.” Jim has previously served as the regional vice president to Canada for the executive board ASTA and Canadian Seed Trade Association, and as chair of non-profit, Seed Programs International. Details here.
APPARI led agri-biotech working group established: The Agricultural Innovation Forum for Asia-Pacific 2022 Working Group on Agri-biotechnology has been set up as part of efforts to contribute towards food systems transformation in the Asia-Pacific The group will incorporate and synergize on both low-tech (tissue culture, biofertilizers, biopesticides, fermentation, artificial insemination, etc.) and high-tech (DNA-based methodologies, including genetic modification of organisms, genomics and gene editing) agri-biotechnology solutions . The Working Group will focus on issues related to capacity development, partnership and enabling environment, linking to the following specific objectives, and discuss main challenges and opportunities biotechnology presents to smallholders in Asia and Pacific. The Working Group , whose members include experts/stakeholders of APAARI, APIRAS and other relevant partners working in agri-biotechnology, met 25 May 2022 and second on 17 June 2022.
Impact of CPVR on EU: April 29: A new European study highlighting the impact of the Community Plant Variety Rights system (CPVR) on the EU economy and the environment was presented on 28 April 2022 in Angers, France, where the Community plant variety Office (CPVO) has its seat.
Key findings of the study include:
The CPVR system contributes to lower annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture and horticulture by 62 million tons per year. Furthermore, water use in agriculture and horticulture is reduced by more than 14 billion m3.
The public release of the study took place at the CPVO policy conference called “Plant Variety Protection: the path towards more sustainability, innovation and growth in the European Union”.
At the launch event, Mr. Christian Archambeau, Executive Director of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) said: “Community Plant Variety Rights, managed by the CPVO, are one of the three unitary IP rights we have at this moment in the European Union. The other two are EU trademarks and Registered Community Designs, which are managed by the EUIPO. All three are important tools to improve sustainability, foster innovation and encourage growth. This new European study, jointly published by the EUIPO and the CPVO, shows how the CPVR system not only contributes to the EU economy, but also to the EU´s environmental objectives.”
Mr. Francesco Mattina, President of the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO), added: “Today’s study shows that innovation in the breeding sector, combined with plant variety protection, is extremely important for the European society as a whole. It confirms that the Community Plant Variety Rights system acts as a virtuous circle, providing the right incentive for investments in R&I from companies of all sizes, including an extremely large number of Breeding SMEs.”
“The study also shows that the CPVR system, by guaranteeing a fair level of intellectual property protection to plant breeders, allows breeders to reap the benefits of their work and encourages them to keep innovating in order to address key societal challenges in the fields of sustainability, food production, growth and employment”, he concluded.
The launch event that took place during the CPVO policy conference, labeled as an official event of the French Presidency of the Council of the EU, was also web-streamed live on the website of the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) and followed by several hundreds of online participants from all over Europe. The recordings will be made available in the coming days on the CPVO website.
The video recordings of the policy seminar and the study are available on a dedicated CPVO webpage. The study in English and the executive summary in French and English can be downloaded from here.
SAA Congress registration: Early bird registration for the Seed Association of Americas 2022 Congress ends on May 31. The event, which is held every two years, is scheduled to take place this year on September 26-28, in Punta del Este, Uruguay, and will gather regional seed professionals, seed leaders, breeders, researchers, policy makers, government officials and students to discuss trade regulations, seed business, and the latest novelties. Click for more details.
2022 AOSA SCST Annual Meeting registration update: The Association of Official Seed Analysts (AOSA) and Society of Commercial Seed Technologists (SCST) in the US will be having their annual meeting in person from 5–9 June in Skokie, Illinois. Though it was announced in May that online registration was closed, the organizations said they would allow for in-person registration to attend some of their meetings, as well as registration for some virtual meetings taking place prior to and concurrent with the in-person meeting, which will be hosted virtually via Zoom: These include for the Purity Committee Meeting pre-meeting on June 1; 10am MT: Vigor Testing Committee on June 2; Germination Committee Meeting on June 6; Long Range Planning Meeting and Open Rules Discssion, both taking place on June 8. For registration links and exact times, click here.
2022 AOSCA Annual Meeting set for Washington: To be held June 19–22, 2022 at the Wenatchee Convention Center at the Stanley Civic Center in Wenatchee, Washington, the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies, (AOSCA) Annual Meeting will be held as an in-person event after a two-year hiatus. The event’s hosts are Washington State Crop Improvement Association and Washington State Department of Agriculture. More details here.
Access to Seeds Round Table event: May 24: The World Benchmarking Alliance’s Acces to Seeds Index team hosted an insightful roundtable forum online, which specifically focused on how Governance and Strategy The event, which brought together dozens of leading seed sector stakeholders from throughout the Global South, follows the publication on April 7 of the Access to Seeds Index insights report, which provides more depth to the 2021 Access to Seeds Index results, including cross regional analysis, case study and next steps. The report also provides country profiles of 55 index countries summarizing country enabling environment, company presence and activities. I can be found here. More details about the insight report and recent Round Table will be covered in upcoming issue of Asian Seed & Planting Material.
73rd World Seed Congress held in Spain: The International Seed Federation (ISF) with the Spanish seed associations ANOVE and APROSE from 16-18 May co-organised. the World Seed Congress 2022 in Barcelona, which was attended by more than 1,400 seed sector professionals, in addition to another 1,000 who attended virtually. Attendees represented about 400 companies from 60 countries. During the Congress, Marco Van Leeuwen stepped up as ISF's new president, while Donald Cole assumed his role as their Immediate Past President. A major emphasis of the Congress was on the plant breeding sector, which was credited for 67% of the annual growth in agricultural productivity in the EU, having an annual turnover of €7 billion and employing 50,000 people on the continent. The Spanish seed market, with a turnover of €750 million, is the third largest in Europe and the thirteenth largest in the world. The theme was “seed as the starting point of the food chain” Read more here.
FAO calls on G7 to address food shortages: May 13: The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has called on G7 nations to help anticipate future food shortages, citing the war in Ukraine squeezing supplies, pushing prices to record highs across Africa and Asia. Addressing G7 Agriculture Ministers meeting in Stuttgart, Germany, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu noted that already in 2021, approximately 193 million people were acutely food insecure and in need of urgent assistance, and that in March, the “FAO Food Price Index reached its highest level (160 points) since its inception in 1990 and only dipped slightly in April.” Read full news here.
New EC elected at ISTA annual Congress: May 11: The International Seed Testing Association held its 33rd Congress in Cairo, Egypt, from 8–11 May. The event opened on May 8 with a Seminar titled “Advancements and innovation in seed testing: from science to robust test” and was followed on May 9 with presentations of ISTA technical work; followed on May 10 with meetings of ISTA’s Technical Committees in joint and parallel working sessions. ISTA’s Oridnary General Meeting was held on May 11, in which a new Executive Committee was confirmed to commence: It consists of President Keshavulu Kunusoth from India; Vice-President Ernest Allen from the US; Immediate Past President Steve Jones from Canada; Members Berta Killermann from Germany; Claid Mujaju from Zimbabwe; Craig McGill from New Zealand and Ignacio Aranciaga from Argentina. See tweet here and profile of ISTA EC here.
First IDPH marked by ISF, IPPC and FAO: May 12: The International Seed Federation (ISF) together with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) celebrated the first International Day of Plant Health (IDPH) on May 12. The international day was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly to raise global awareness on plant health, including seed health, as the foundation for all life on earth. The seed industry has been supportive of this initiative as a member of the steering committee of the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) celebrated in 2020 until the first half of 2021. The implementation of the International Day of Plant Health will carry on the message from IYPH and continue to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment and boost economic development, for years to come. More details here.
Significant gene-editing policy changes in Europe: May 10: IHS Markit reports on how the Ukraine-Russia conflict has demonstrated fragility and vulnerability of global and European food supply chains: “Around the world, governments in leading agricultural-producing countries are now catching up with the United States, both to better legislate gene-edited (GE) products, as well as differentiate them from the older Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) technology, and its negative connotations to some consumers, commentators, farmers, retailers, politicians and lawmakers.
This is both impacting and influencing government policy, and the in turn the regulatory landscape in various countries is changing, as well as how companies and new technology are developing and evolving in response for future growth opportunities.
Ukraine-Russia coverage: There has been much reporting commentary and analysis on the Ukraine-Russia situation, and particularly its impact on regional and global seed, feed and food supply chains. Following are some recent articles from various sources:
April 25: Ukrainian Agriculture Faces Logistics Issues in Planting: An interview about planting matters in the war-torn country with Seed Association of Ukraine Executive Director, Siuzana Grygorenko, who said. “ “All around us, there is the war . . . In the agricultural sphere, the situation is also not good. . . ” Read more on Ukrainian Agriculture Faces Logistics Issues in Planting (seedworld.com). See also, article in Germination published on April 21: The Seed Business in Ukraine Goes on Despite Invasion - Germination
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations on April 19, reported on a drive to “appeal to bolster agriculture and provide urgent support to vulnerable rural households”, seeking more than “$115 million urgently needed to assist Ukrainian farmers and rural households through December 2022” See FAO article here.
And, providing insight on grains, oilseed and inputs supply factors and impacts is a March 8 blog from IHS Markit, titled “Ukraine seeds sector keeps a watchful eye on security and supply chain issues”, which notes that Russia and Ukraine “collectively account for some 25% of global wheat supplies.” Read more here.
Fall Armyworm Control extended with broader scope: April 22: To further combat the spread of fall armyworm, which continues to cause billions of dollars of damage to crops globally, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Global Action for Fall Armyworm Control has announced that it will be extending the timeline for the Global Action to the end of 2023 as well as and increasing measures across Africa, the Near East, and Asia that will complement ongoing FAO activities to control fall armyworm. Measures include Integrated Pest Management (IPM) tactics, hybrids tolerant to fall armyworm such as a Maize hybrid strain that has begun testing prior to release in Africa, and training for local farmers. The measures have begun to make an impact in countries such as Burkina Faso where biological control and biopesticides have kept yield losses under 5% since 2020. FAO launched the Global Action for Fall Armyworm Control in December 2019 as an urgent response to the rapid spread of fall armyworm, which enables dialogue for science-based solutions, helping to establish National Task Forces, and mobilizing resources for applied research and technical outreach. Original story here
FAO report on the ‘Wild Dozen’ plant species: April 22: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has published a new report, titled Wild Check: Assessing risks and opportunities of trade in wild plant ingredients, which sheds light on twelve important wild plants. The report, which was developed in collaboration with TRAFFIC, a non-governmental organisation, aims to raise awareness about the sustainable use of wild-harvested plants. The 12 wild plants covered in the report include:
See FAO article for more details here.
FAO presses for import financing facility amid rising prices: April 20: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has called for a global Food Import Financing Facility (FIFF) to help countries struggling with rising food costs due to the war in Ukraine, with Russia and Ukraine responsible for 30% of the wheat imports of almost 50 countries. High food prices affect low and lower-middle income countries the most, and rising fertilizer prices are putting future harvests at risk with implications for global food security. The FAO has stress-tested the FIFF for its impact on global markets and believes it would be convenient to administrate and scale-up. Original story here
APSA EC, ITQ co-chair vacant: April 19: Abigail Struxness has stepped down as Senior Director of International Programs & Policy, a position which she held since September 2018. This means Abigail will no longer serve as APSA EC member and as a co-chair of APSA’s Standing Committee on International Trade and Quarantine. The co-chair position is expected to be filled by June. Stand by for announcement from the APSA Secretariat, Executive Director.
Access to Seeds Insights report published: April 7: The World Benchmarking Alliance has published its Access to Seeds Index Insights report, which provides more depth to its 2021 Access to Seeds Index results, including cross regional analysis, case study and next steps. This report also provides country profiles of 55 index countries summarizing country enabling environment, company presence and activities. On May 24, 2022, WBC will host its first in a series of planned roundtable discussions focused on governance and strategy. The goal of the roundtable is to share learnings from company leading practices and drive more accountability for leadership on their access to seeds strategies for smallholder farmers. Stand by for further updates on this.
Africa Seed Profiles 2021 Special Report: IHS Markit: Food and nutritional insecurity are a significant concern in developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where some 57% of the population cannot afford a healthy diet. Food insecurity is aggravated by micronutrient deficiencies, also known as "hidden hunger," a major impediment to social and economic development. In addition, the consumption of fruits and vegetables in sub-Saharan Africa is far below the recommended amount of 400 g/capita/day. Fostering better access to more nutritious foods across sub-Saharan Africa will be critical to ending hunger and malnutrition. The seed sectors in Northern and Southern Africa are considerably further advanced than is the case in SSA. The Mediterranean vegetable seed sectors (Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt) are closely linked to the EU markets they serve and receive hands-on assistance in establishing and developing their operational guidelines and business undertakings. However, the vegetable seed sector in sub-Saharan Africa has been slow to develop and has heretofore received little attention in the development agenda. Find out more: Africa Seed Profiles 2021 | IHS Markit
CPM holds 16th session virtually: April 21: The Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM) held its 16th Session of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM-16), which was organized in six virtual sessions on 5, 7 and 21 April 2022. The meeting marked the first under the tenure of Osama El-Lissy as the Secretary of the International Plant Protection Commission – which the CPM Governs Secretary. With a total of 184 contracting parties, the IPPC is celebrating its 70th anniversary. More details here. See also, all six sessions of CPM-16 here.
USDA releases ‘2022 Farmers Planting Intentions’: March 31: The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA NASS) has released a report on U.S. farmers’ planting intentions for 2022. According to the report, producers surveyed reported an intention to plant 91 million acres of soybeans, which would be up 4% from last year, and a record planting if realized. Other key findings are:
For more information, read the report here.
USDA accepting public comment on seed competition until May 16: Seed World reported that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on March 11 ”initiated a public inquiry urging the public to reach out with their comments regarding seeds, fertilizer and retail markets. This 60-day comment period is a result of the July 9, 2021 Executive Order on “Promoting Competition in the American Economy where President Biden put into action 72 initiatives aimed to combat what he called competition issues in the economy. The agency is specifically seeking information on fertilizer, seed and agricultural inputs, in particular as they relate to the intellectual property system; and retail, including access to retail through wholesale and distribution markets.” For more details on how to participate, see Seed World report here.
ISF Secretariat welcomes two new team members: The International Seed Federation (ISF) Secretariat recently welcomed two new professionals to its team in Switzerland: Ben Rivoire as Sustainability & Crop Manager, and Ludivine Thomas as the new Technical Lead for The International Seed Health Initiative for Vegetable Crops (ISHI-Veg). Ludivine Thomas is based in France, and holds a PhD in Plant Biology, from Massey University, and spent the last six years working as the Seed Health Quality Control manager in HM.Clause. See more information about her on Information | ISF Members Area (worldseed.org). Benjamin (Ben) Rivoire was most recently the Head of Seed Sector Cooperation and Regional Development (Africa + Arab Countries) at UPOV and has many years of seed policy and industry experience. Before spending 10 years at UPOV, Ben worked eight years at Syngenta Seeds. More details about Ben here: A fresh and engaging start of the new year | by International Seed Federation | Medium
Record levels marked in latest FAO Food Price Index: March 4: According to the latest report on the FAO Food Price Index (FFPI), released March 4, 2021, surging price of vegetable oils and dairy products contributed to record levels, with strong prospects for maize and wheat anticipated in the year ahead. The latest FFPI “averaged 140.7 points in February 2022, up 5.3 points (3.9 percent) from January and as much as 24.1 points (20.7 percent) above its level a year ago. This represents a new all-time high, exceeding the previous top of February 2011 by 3.1 points. The February rise was led by large increases in vegetable oil and dairy price sub-indices. Cereals and meat prices were also up, while the sugar price sub-index fell for the third consecutive month.” On the FAO’s latest Cereal Supply and Demand Brief, global wheat production was forecast to increase to 790 million tonnes, “with anticipated high yields and extensive planting in North America and Asia, offsetting a likely slight decrease in the European Union and the adverse impact of drought conditions on crops in some of the North African countries.” However, the reports “only partly incorporates market effects stemming from the conflict in Ukraine”. See full report details here: FAO Food Price Index | World Food Situation | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
IHIS Markit’s latest report on global seed trait trends: The seed sector is one of the critical agricultural inputs required by growers to produce crops for food, animal feed and non-food use. With the global population expected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050, changing climate and constraints on available land areas for cultivation, the need for cost-effective seed technology is increasingly essential in sustainable agricultural production strategies. Future developments in the seed market, driven by GM traits, new breeding technologies or new non-GM technologies, are crucial in delivering the necessary improvements in yield, nutritional value, tolerance to drought and stress to support the increased pressures on production. The IHS Markit Crop Science Market Analysis and Data team has released the Seed Market Overview and Trait Overview 2020. These reports present our most recent analysis of the performance of the global commercial seed market in 2020.
The report contains:
Get the report here: Seed Market Analysis and Data | IHS Markit
ISF condemns war, weighs in on Ukraine seed supply: The International Seed Federation on 8 March issued a statement calling for continued seed supply to Ukraine in light of the ongoing conflict there. “We are deeply saddened by the unacceptable situation in Ukraine today, and we condemn this war. Our thoughts are especially with our colleagues in the seed and farming sector and the whole Ukrainian population, who are facing an unimaginable situation. We need immediate ceasefire and peace! Peace and food security are inextricably linked; one cannot exist without the other,” the statement opens. “Only through peace and cooperation will we be able to ensure that people will not starve. ISF’s vision is to make the best quality seed accessible to all and everywhere, supporting sustainable agriculture and food security – also and especially in times of crises like war and armed conflict. Ukraine is a key player in global agriculture, with more than 40 million hectares of agricultural land and with major exports to Eastern Africa. Ukraine accounts on a global level for 30% of sunflower, 19% of rapeseed, 12% of wheat and 16% of corn production. The continuation of this war will be catastrophic for Ukraine and for the entire world, where already 850 million people are facing hunger. . . “ Read full statement here.
Bayer threatens to halt Russian seed supply: March 14: German agricultural giant Bayer AG issued a statement warning that it would seed shipments to Russia next year if the war in Ukraine continues. The company said it had already provided “essential agricultural inputs” to Russian farmers for this year’s planting but would “closely monitor the political situation and decide about supplies for 2023 and beyond at a later stage.” See full details here.
FAO weighs in on Ukraine-Russia conflict impacts, policy: In an Information Note published in March by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), titled “The importance of Ukraine and the Russian Federation for global agricultural markets and the risks associated with the current conflict” a number of policy recommendations were outlined, in addition to providing an in-depth analysis and market assessment, structure and risks, as well as an in-depth analysis of the possible impacts of the ongoing conflict. See full report here: Info-Note-Ukraine-Russian-Federation.pdf (fao.org)
FAO DG reiterates policy recommendations: Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Qu Dongyu on March 1 via China Daily reiterated key points outlined in the FAO’s information note above. Among those were the following five Policy Recommendations
1. Keep global food and fertilizer trade open. Every effort should be made to protect the production and marketing activities needed to meet domestic and global demands. Supply chains should keep moving, which means protecting standing crops, livestock, food processing infrastructure, and all logistical systems.
2. Find new and more diverse food suppliers. Countries dependent on food imports from Russia and Ukraine should look for alternative suppliers to absorb the shock. They should also rely on existing food stocks and diversify their domestic production to ensure people’s access to healthy diets.
3. Support vulnerable groups, including internally displaced people. Governments must expand social safety nets to protect vulnerable people. In Ukraine, international organizations must step in to help reach people in need. Across the globe, many more people would be pushed into poverty and hunger because of the conflict, and we must provide timely and well-targeted social protection programs to them.
4. Avoid ad hoc policy reactions. Before enacting any measures to secure food supply, governments must consider their potential effects on international markets. Reductions in import tariffs or the use of export restrictions could help to resolve individual country food security challenges in the short term, but they would drive up prices on global markets.
5. Strengthen market transparency and dialogue. More transparency and information on global market conditions can help governments and investors make informed decisions when agricultural commodity markets are volatile. Initiatives like the G-20’s Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) increases such transparency by providing objective and timely market assessments.
See also QU’s presentation given during the recent Extraordinary-Meeting-G7-Agriculture-Ministers.pdf (fao.org)
Also related to food security and the Ukraine-Russia conflict, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has published several insightful pieces describing how the conflict is threatening global food security, with disruptions in agricultural supply chains and food prices rising around the world. These include The Russia-Ukraine crisis poses a serious food security threat for Egypt published by IFPRI on February 24, 2022, Overcoming the Threats to Global Food Systems from Russia's Invasion of Ukraine , first published by IFPRI on March 11, 2022, and How will Russia’s invasion of Ukraine affect global food security? published by IFPRI on February 24, 2022.
Historic FAO Regional Conference concludes in Asia and the Pacific: March 11: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) from 8-11 March held its “largest-ever regional conference in Asia and the Pacific,” bringing together more than 1,100 participants from 42 Member nations: Hosted by the Government of Bangladesh from 8 – 11 March, in Dhaka, the 36th Session of the FAO Asia and the Pacific Regional Conference featured a combination of in-person and virtual participation, and was described by organizers as a historic affair in which “record-breaking participation underscored the concerns Member Nations have in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic and other existing and emerging threats such as the impact on food production from the climate crisis and the spread of animal and plant diseases across the region.” During the conference, participants discussed FAO’s main agendas, including the Hand in Hand Initiative, the One Country, One Priority Product (OCOP) and the 1000 Digital Villages Initiative, while a Special Event on innovation, science and digitalization was also held, which focused on agrifood systems in the Asia-Pacific region. The conference also included to high-level Ministerial discussions: The first was a Round Table on “greener and better agrifood systems after COVID-19” to review examples from four countries – China, Japan, Philippines and Samoa – about their experiences in battling through Covid-19. The second was a Ministerial Round Table discussion focused on “climate actions for resilience and sustainability”. While the Asia and Pacific Regional Conference is convened every two years to seek the views and direction of the governments of FAO Member Nations in the region, it has expanded to become more inclusive of other actors, such as civil society organizations and the private sector, both of which participated in #APRC36.
APSA Director intervenes at APRC36: March 8: Speaking on behalf of the private seed sector during the historic 36th Session of the FAO Asia and the Pacific Regional Conference. APSA Director, Dr Kanokwan Chodchoey read a statement in which she emphasized the importance of seeds in achieving sustainable development: as follows:
“Seeds are the primary basis of the food and agriculture supply chain system. Smooth seed trade and the accessibility of quality seeds for farmers in the region are crucial to sustaining the region’s food and nutrition security and economic prosperity. We have surveyed 132 companies from 20 countries/territories in APAC and 21 countries/territories outside APAC, in the past 2 years to monitor the impact of the pandemic on the overall operations of seeds and agricultural inputs companies. The report is published by the OECD Seed Scheme. The result has shown a strong negative impact on trade followed by labor shortage though there were gradual recovery by the late 2020. Still many challenges and difficulties persisted, especially in the international seed trade. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digitalization and innovation in many areas of the agricultural inputs and food supply chain. In countries where digital tools were implemented, the impact of disruptions was less severe. Limitations on the adoption and implementation of digital tools especially in plant and plant products supply chain may hinder the ability to achieve food security and improve nutrition as part of SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) 2 “Zero Hunger”.
To streamline and facilitate international trade, and thus address many of the aforementioned challenges, a strong framework for public private partnerships and private-private partnerships is key, as is strong international cooperation and framework for human resource development. Governments should recognize agricultural inputs as essential commodities, and thereby formulate policies that enable ease of doing business for the domestic inputs industry, as well as facilitate and incentivize foreign direct investment. we urge that the harmonization of phytosanitary requirements concerning the international movement of seed be based on scientific basis, in accordance with ISPM38. This approach will be conducive to predictable international seed movements, which is crucial for food security and economic prosperity of all our countries. It is also important that governments communicate clearly, and in advance when there is a change in rules, or when new measures will come into force. This will enable seed producers to have adequate time to prepare their quality management systems and adapt to changes in time, and thus ensuring farmers will have access to quality seeds without any disruptions to their sowing schedules, which is critical to sustaining sustainable agri-food systems, on the local, regional and global levels.
AFSTA gets new President: Dr Kulani Machaba of Corteva - South Africa was formally transitioned as the new president of the African Seed Trade Association. during the regional seed association’s annual Annual Congress, held 2 and 3 March at the Royal Garden Palace in Djerba, Tunisia. Nearly 180 delegates representing seed traders and producers from various regions of the world attended the event, which was presided over by Guest of Honour, Prof Mohamed Habib Ben Jamaa, Director General of Plant Health and Control of Agricultural Inputs. Dr Kulani Machaba from South Africa takes the reins of AFSTA from outgoing president, Azariah Soi from Kenya. AFSTA was started in March 2000 in Pretoria, South Africa and it meets annually around the first week of March. It has 120 members of which 27 are African national seed trade associations.
The next AFSTA Congress is planned to be held in Dakar, Senegal, 6 to 9 March 2023. See full press release.
Swiss government extends GMO moratorium, but… A moratorium in Switzerland on genetically modified organisms (GMOs)has been extended until 2025, and for the time being all plants from genome editing are considered gmos. However, the “Bundesrat” (Swiss government) has been charged to come up with solutions/proposals until 2024 how a risk-based authorization for certain (non-transgenic) plants from genome editing could look like with the goal to exempt them from the gmo-moratorium and thus treat them outside the legislation. In addition, there is reportedly a precondition for exempting certain plants from genome editing from the gmo-moratorium if determined that such plants/methods can provide benefits for agriculture, the environment and consumers compared to conventional breeding methods.More details in Swiss here: 21.049 | Gentechnikgesetz. Änderung | Geschäft | Das Schweizer Parlament
Ukraine invasion poses ‘dire consequences’ for regional food security: February 24: The trade of grains and seeds to, through and from Eurasia has been compromised by the invasion by Russia of Ukraine in late February. Reuters reported that an ocean vessel operated by Cargill Inc was hit by a projectile in the Black Sea, though crew were reported to be safe, while commercial port shipping had been suspended as the invasion ensued. Estimates put Ukraine’s monthly grain exports at about 5 million to 6 million tonnes, including about 4.5 million tonnes of corn, 1 million tonnes and the rest being mostly barley. Various countries in the immediate region depend on Ukrainian grain, including China, Turkey, Russia, Egypt and the European Union. European Seed also reported that East and Southeast Asia and the Middle East are major markets for Ukrainian grain, while “the main buyers of Ukrainian seeds are Belarus (35%), and EU (31%), as well as Serbia (5%), Egypt (4%), Georgia (4%).” According to a Q&A published on February 3 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), “A disruption to exports would have dire consequences for food insecurity in already-fragile countries dependent on Ukrainian grain. For example, Lebanon imports 50 percent of its total wheat consumption from Ukraine, followed by Libya at 43 percent, Yemen at 22 percent, and Bangladesh at 21 percent” See full article here. On February 24, the World Farmers’ Organization published a statement that read: “We are concerned, in particular, by the economic consequences of production and trade disruption, being Ukraine one of the top 10 world producers of wheat, corn, sunflower seeds, barley, rapeseed and soybeans. Energy and inputs costs are also deeply impacted by the ongoing situation, overall affecting food security. WFO hopes for a rapid resolution of the conflict, in the interest of all.”
Q&A on EU’s new laws for microorganisms in plant protection products: February 14: European Seed has published a comprehensive Question and Answer piece covering four legal acts which aim to simplify the process of approval and authorisation of biological plant protection products that contain micro-organisms. Pending scrutiny by the European Parliament and the Council the acts are expected to be adopted by the fourth quarter of this year. Read more on Farm to Fork: New Rules for Micro-Organisms Used in Plant Protection Products - European Seed (european-seed.com)
World Pulses Day marked: February 10: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) staged a virtual event to mark World Pulses Day, which seeks to raise awareness of the role of pulses in addressing food security challenges and their contribution to achieving a healthy and balanced diet. The theme for this year’s celebration was “Pulses to empower youth in achieving sustainable agrifood systems”. The event was presided over by FAO Director-Genera Qu Dongyu, who noted: “Pulses contribute to creating livelihood opportunities and equity, which are essential for sustainable agrifood systems. FAO strongly supports the youth to become drivers of positive change.” Also speaking at the event were Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO); Naoko Yamamoto, Assistant Director-General for Healthy Population at the World Health Organization (WHO); Nevzat Birişik, Director-General of Agricultural Research and Policies at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of the Republic of Turkey and Cindy Brown, President of the Global Pulse Confederation (GPC). The United Nations General Assembly designated 10 February as World Pulses Day after the success of the International Year of Pulses in 2016, which was implemented by FAO. The initiative has since been supported by many Member countries. See more details here: World Pulses Day leverages the power of youth to transform agrifood systems (fao.org)
Study highlights up to 9pc of plants in EU threatened: February 7: Between seven to nine percent of all vascular plant species that occur in Europe are globally threatened, according to a recent study published in the journal Plants, People, Planet by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and Leipzig University. The researchers combined Red Lists of endangered plant species in Europe with data on their global distribution. It helps assess the overall level of threat to plant species and thus supports the basis of international nature conservation activities. Read more here: 7 to 9 percent of all European vascular plants are globally threatened (idiv.de)
IYFV formally draws to close: February 4: The UN International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021 drew to a close today with a global ceremony staged from Rome. During the ceremony, which was presided over by Qu Dongyu, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), participants recognized the increased awareness of the critical role of fruits and vegetables to improve farmer incomes, create decent jobs, and attain food and nutrition security through transformation of agrifood systems. Also attending were Chile’s Vice Minister of Agriculture, Jose Ignacio Pinoche. Read more about The UN’s International Year of Fruits and Vegetables ends with global ceremony (fao.org)
Global food prices rise in January as vegetable oils reach all-time high: February 3: Global food prices rises in January were “largely catalysed by supply-side constraints for vegetable oils,” according to the latest Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Food Price Index report, which averaged 135.7 points in January 2022, representing a 1.1% rise from December. The Index tracks monthly changes in the international prices of commonly-traded food commodities. Driving this increase was a 4.2% month-on-month rise in the FAO Vegetable Oils Price sub-Index, reaching an all-time high. “Palm oil prices were largely underpinned by concerns over a possible reduction in export availabilities from Indonesia, the world’s leading exporter, while soy oil prices were supported by robust import purchases, particularly from India, rapeseed oil prices were pushed up by lingering supply tightness, and sunflowerseed oil quotations were impacted by supply tightness and surging global import demand” In January, the FAO Dairy Price Index increased by 2.4 %, the FAO Cereal Price and Meat Price Indices increased marginally, while the the FAO Sugar Price Index was the only subindex to post a decrease in January, down 3.1 %from the previous month. See also FAO’s latest Cereal Supply and Demand Brief, , which forecasts cereal utilization in 2021/22 to increase by 1.6 percent year-on-year, and for world trade in cereals in 2021/22 to stand at 481 million tonnes.
PBR Infringement yields hefty penalties in Italy case: The Court of Ragusa sentenced Gaetano Senia and Bartolomeo Bernini, legal representatives of a nursery in Vittoria, in the province of Ragusa, where a PBR protected tomato variety was being cultivated without the required authorization. This is the second ruling of its type in Italy.
The process began with a complaint filed by the AIB (Anti-Infringement Bureau for Intellectual Property Rights in Plant Material), an international association established under Belgian law whose objective is to fight against illegal activity in the seed sector. Read more in Presse-release-AIB.pdf (plantum.nl)
Technical Coordinator wanted at APSA: Attention all qualified Thai nationals and/or Thai residents, APSA is seeking to fill the position of Technical Coordinator, who will work closely with APSA’s Technical Coordination Manager, Executive Director and Technical Committees in planning and carrying out various meetings, projects and activities essential to promoting seed sector R&D, production, trade and technology in the Asia Pacific and beyond. Read full details here.
Vegetable Agronomist at WorldVeg: World Vegetable Centre (WorldVeg) is seeking a Vegetable Agronomist / Agro-ecologist to contribute to “technologies and approaches that will enhance farmer incomes, reduce losses and waste, increase food safety, improve food and nutrition security and have positive outcomes in terms of human, plant and environmental health.” The position will be based at WorldVeg’s headquarters in Shanhua, Tainan, Taiwan and within the Safe and Sustainable Value. Initial application deadline was 28 February. More details here.
Students wanted by ASTA: The American Seed Trade Association is accepting applications for its Student Connections program. This is an exciting opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to pursue professional development, networking and career prospects in the seed industry. Program participants will travel to ASTA’s Leadership Summit in Indianapolis, IN in June 2022, and applications are due by March 11. Find out more details on ASTA’s website here: #JustGrowIt - ASTA - (betterseed.org)
UPOV Hiring Senior Technical/Regional Officer (Africa and Europe): The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) is seeking to fill this position for a two-year contract duration based in Geneva, Switzerland. The incumbent will raise awareness of UPOV and plant variety protection (PVP) and provides guidance to States and organizations on the process of becoming a UPOV member and on the implementation of the UPOV system in Africa and Europe, and provide guidance on technical matters concerning PVP and UPOV; and promotes UPOV services. The application deadline is 16 March. More details:
New PRISMA edition released: January 26: UPOV is pleased to announce the release of UPOV PRISMA, Version 2.7. UPOV PRISMA is an on-line tool to assist in making plant variety protection (PVP) applications to PVP Offices of participating UPOV members. The release was revealed in a press release, which also announced as the newest participating authority, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Saint Vincent. Find out more at www.upov.int/upovprisma
South African Seed Growers Appeal for NBT Not to be Regulated as GMOs: January 19: South African seed industry organizations led by the South African National Seed Organization (SANSOR) released a joint statement after the National Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) announced that products derived from new breeding technologies will be evaluated under the risk assessment framework used for genetically modified organisms. In the statement, the seed industry organizations highlighted the possible detrimental effects of the decision on the nation's agricultural industry.. For more details see full report on ISAAA here as well as original statement on SANSOR website here.
$10M project aims for more pest-resilient food options in Bangladesh, Philippines: January 13: A new Cornell-led project will accelerate the application of biotechnology to enhance food and nutritional security in Bangladesh and the Philippines. The Feed the Future Insect-Resistant Eggplant Partnership is funded by a five-year, $10 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative. The new award will continue efforts to introduce genetically engineered (GE) eggplant varieties that are resistant to devastating insect infestations and can reduce or eliminate the need for harmful pesticides. Full details on Cornell website here.
APHIS to accept only original phytosanitary certificates: 29 December: From March 31 the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will accept only original phytosanitary certificates and forms for plant commodity imports. They will continue accepting electronic phytosanitary certificates (via ePhyto, which shares certificates between governments; see list of participating ePhyto countries). Hence, acceptable phytosanitary certificates include: A) Certificates created through a participating country’s ePhyto system, or signed paper forms, and B) Acceptable foreign site certificates of inspection or treatment including: signed paper forms; signed copies of the master PPQ Form 203; and digitally signed electronic PPQ Form 203s Previously, plant commodity importers could upload phytosanitary certificate and form copies. More details here.
UN drug body reclassifies cannabis: DECEMBER 2020:
A simple, narrow majority of 53 Member State representatives on the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) voted on December 2 to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drug, which includes substances that the CND considers “particularly liable to abuse and to produce ill effects, and such liability is not offset by substantial therapeutic advantages”. As reported by the UN here, and in this note, the historic vote resulted in 27 members in favour of removing cannabis from the category against 25 against, and one abstention. The CND Members also voted to have cannabis and its extracts to remain on Schedule 1, which make it possible for governments to formally recognize the medicinal and therapeutic potential of cannabis, and thus regulate it. Only four Asia-Pacific countries were among the 27 voting in favor of the removal of cannabis from the ‘risky drug’ schedule. They were Thailand, India, Nepal and Australia. The other 10 Asia-Pacific reps on the CND -- Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Bahrain, Japan and China -- all voted against. Nonetheless, most of these countries have movements to decriminalize or legalize the plant and its material, including the seeds. Click here for our report on the Asia-Pacific cannabis seed industry.
Solomon Islands expands seeds program: December 2020:
The government (The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock) of Solomon Islands is extending a program to distribute vegetable seeds and farming tools across its provinces. As of December 1, a total of 12,933 packets of seeds had been distributed. The program, which was initiated in June as part of a Covid-19 Livelihood Sector Support scheme, with support from the Australian Government and in partnership with the UN's Development Programme, aims to encourage households to plant gardens in order to subsidise food costs. Read more from Radio New Zealand.
FAO Food Price Index rises sharply: November 2020:
Global food commodity prices rose to a nearly six-year high in November, according to a December 3 press release from the The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The monthly increase was the sharpest since July 2012, putting the index at its highest level since December 2014. The Index tracks changes in the international prices of the most globally traded food commodities. Among its sub indices, the Oil Price Index spiked 14.5 in November, which was linked to an ongoing rally in palm oil prices. The Cereal Price Index rose 2.5% from October, from rising wheat export prices linked to reduced harvest prospects in Argentina, and rising maize prices tied to lower output expectations in the US, Ukraine, as well as large purchases by China.The Sugar Price Index rose 3.3 % month-on-month “amid growing expectations of a global production shortfall in the upcoming marketing season as unfavorable weather conditions drove weaker crop prospects in the European Union, the Russian Federation and Thailand.” The Dairy Price and Meat Price Indices both rose 0.9 percent from October. Click here to read the full report.
New IYPH 2020 Postage Stamps
Japan, United Arab Emirates, Korea and Kyrgyzstan are among the 15 countries to issue IYPH postage stamps. Japan and the UAE recently announced their new designs earlier in August while Korea and Kyrgystan had issued stamps earlier this year. The other 11 countries include Finland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Poland, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Tunisia, the Vatican, Sierra Leone and Togo. Stay tuned for the full story in Asian Seed Q3 issue in September.
APSA members offered 20% discount for Virtual Seed Industry Course
Sathguru Management Consultants is offering APSA members a special 20% discount off registration for Cornell Sathguru Executive Education programs, namely for the upcoming Virtual Live Seed Industry Program (SIP2020), which will be held 2-6 November. The regular fee, including tax is $472 per participant, but with the special concession, APSA members can register for only $378, which includes tax. For more information about the SIP2020, see this video here, and download the brochure here.
ICARDA publishes Seed Info issue number 59 & Annual Report
The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) has published the 59th edition of Seed Info … Contents include a “Seed Security Response to COVID-19” document, which presents critical responses needed in the immediate and midterm to mitigate negative impacts on farmers, in addition to news updates from ISTA, UPOV and the World Seed Partnership. Seed Info aims to stimulate information exchange and regular communication between seed staff in the Central and West Asia and North Africa (CWANA) region and beyond, strengthening national seed programs and thus improving the supply of high-quality seed to farmers. Download latest issue here. In other ICARDA news, the center in early Auggust announced the publication of its 2019 Annual Report, which can be accessed here.
ISTA announces latest pest list reference, technical committee program
The International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) on August 5 announced the release of the latest version of its Reference Pest List, which ncludes 56 new scientific articles, links to EPPO Global database, countries requesting phytosanitary status for pests in seeds and much more. The list can be accessed here. In other ISTA news, the association has announced its Technical Committees’s Working Programme for the 2019-2022, which can be accessed here.
APEC Ag Biotech something
APSA Executive Director Dr. Kanokwan Chodchoey was featured as a speaker at the APEC High-level Policy Dialogue on Agricultural Biotechnology (HLPDAB) recent Webinar Series, which was held online between 17-19 August. The theme of the sessions was “Benefits, Sustainability, and Promise of Precision in Agricultural Biotechnology” More details to be shared.
Asia-Pacific seed industry addresses unsolicited seed packages
In response to reports of mysterious, illegal and/or unsolicited packages of seeds mailed to recipients in several countries in July and August (see below), the Asia and Pacific Seed Association (APSA) encourages all of its members, stakeholders and associates to uphold best industry practices, and to fully comply with established rules and standards for international seed movements and phytosanitary measures. See full story here.
Space breeding taking off with seeds sent to space
Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Japan, Australia, Thailand, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the US plan to send plant seeds into earth’s orbit this October. According to this article in the Taipei Times, citing the National Space Organization (NSPO), the seeds will be sent as part of the Space Seeds for Asian Future program, developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and involving several other nations. A total of 16 kinds of seeds are planned to be sent to the International Space Station (ISS), where they would stay for about four months. Most of the seeds selected are endemic plants but some are crop seeds. For the Taiwanese seeds, the NSPO collaborated with National Chung Hsing University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute, which is overseen by the Council of Agriculture, to choose the seeds, which include seeds of Formosa lambsquarters, Phalaenopsis equestris (a kind of “butterfly orchid, sunflowers and chili pepper seeds, The weight of the seeds to be sent are 10g, 1g, 20g and 16g respectively. The seeds have already been sent to Japan and will be forwarded to the US next month, to be returned to Taiwan in February next year. Other participating nations include Thailand and Australia, who will send the seeds of their national flowers, the ratchaphruek and the golden wattle; New Zealand will send seeds of the pohutukawa, an endemic plant; Indonesia will send celery and onion seeds; and Malaysia will send the seed of holy basil. More details here.
In related news in China, a "Sakura Space Breeding" update was revealed at a press conference on the morning of August 7 in Guangzhou. Cherry blossom seeds of four selected varieties that were displayed will be sent into orbit with other seeds, seedlings, microorganisms, and fungi for space breeding experiments, in which they will be subject to mutagenesis, a technique that could yield superior new sakura varieties with different flower colors, rich flower types, different flowering periods, and stronger resistance to disease and pests, and better tolerance to extreme temperatures. After this batch of cherry blossom seeds returns to earth, the space-exposed seeds with certain mutations will be germinated in Conghua, Guangzhou. More details here
JUNE AND JULY 2020
United Nations Chief urges secure food systems in face of hunger crisis
The United Nations’ Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that as much as 820 million people would go hungry, including 144 million children. Quoted in an article published by the Manila Times in June, Guterres estimated that some 49 million additional people would fall into extreme poverty this year due to the Covid-19 crisis, which would thus increase the number of people at risk of acute food or nutrition insecurity.
ISF urges governments to continue to facilitate international seed movements
The Secretary-General of the International Seed Federation, Michael Keller on 6 July, released a new statement asking governments “to continue facilitating the international movement of seed and not to impose restrictive measures.” The letter cites the position of the World Health Organization’s guidelines for food business that state: “It is highly unlikely that people can contract COVID-19 from food or food packaging …” Mr Keller goes on to stress that “ Seed companies have and will continue to take all necessary measures to guarantee the health and safety of workers who are involved in the shipment of seed.” Read full statement here
ISF, CSA & CNSTA: ‘3rd Round Table Meeting on Plant Breeding Innovation’ online
The International Seed Federation(ISF) joined with the China Seed Association(CSA) and the China National Seed Trade Association(CNSTA) to organize the online session on June 23. In addition to reps from the three organization, the session was also attended by some 300 representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Seed Industry Associations, Research Units, Seed Companies in China and seed associations and stakeholders from Japan, the United States and Australia. A report from the session will be published in Asian Seed Magazine, Q3 edition.
FAO names new assistant to DG & regional rep for Asia and the Pacific
South Korean national Mr Jong-Jin Kim has been named the Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific. Effective since 1st July 2020, Mr. Jong-Jin succeeds Dr. Kundhavi Kadiresan, who held the positions since 2015 until December 2019, when she completed her tenure. Mr Kim, a national of the Republic of Korea, has a long and distinguished career in public service. He joined FAO in 2013 as Director of South-South Cooperation and Resource Mobilization Division (TCS) and immediately prior to his present appointment, he had been serving as FAO’s Deputy Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific (RAP) in Bangkok, Thailand. Read more details on the FAO’s website here.
FAO issues Asia-Pacific policy recommendations to cope with Covid-19 impacts on food
To address serious threats of the COVID-19 pandemic on food and nutrition security in Asia and the Pacific, the FAO on June 5 published a report highlighting food supply chain trends in 11 countries. These include Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam. The report includes several general policy recommendations for governments, including: controlling the spread of the virus through physical distancing and management of fear among labourers working in food supply chains; expanding social protections through “more-inclusive” economic stimulus measures, “more generous” benefits to ensure food access for all, and reduction of administrative burdens for funds access; governments working with the private sector to solve disruptions in food supply chains; avoiding export restrictions in international trade and building resilience into food systems. Read full report here.
2020 World Food Laureate is an Indian American Soil Scientist
Congratulations to Dr. Rattan Lal, a native of India and citizen of the United States, who has been awarded the 2020 #WorldFoodPrize. Dr. Lal, a soil scientist and distinguished professor at Ohio State University, is recognized for promoting ” innovative soil-saving techniques benefiting the livelihoods of more than 500 million smallholder farmers, improving the food and nutritional security of more than two billion people and saving hundreds of millions of hectares of natural tropical ecosystems.” See biography here as well as this news on Ohio State website.
East-West Seed names two new members to its Supervisory Board.
Mary Sue Rogers and Maaike Groot have been appointed as the newest members of East-West Seed’s Supervisory Board. The news, whicch was announced by the leading vegetable seed firm on 1 July, follows Simon Groot, Dietrich Schmidt and Johnny Santos formally retiring from the Supervisory Board. Mary Sue Rogers previously held various executive and non-executive positions in the areas of Human Resources and Talent Development, while Maaike Groot joined East-West Seed in 2014, helping to externally position the company and building partnerships, and will continue in her present Public Affairs role at the company.
ISTA revises procedures for Orange & Blue certificates & other updates
The International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) recently revised the procedure for ‘How to complete ISTA certificates’, specifically on how to complete the ISTA Orange International Seed Lot Certificate (OIC) and ISTA Blue International Seed Sample Certificate (BIC). The revised procedures can be downloaded here. In other ISTA news, the association has published high quality photos from a recent round of Proficiency Tests (PT) and Other Seed Determination (OSD) on its website, which can be downloaded here, and the association also has made public an ISTA Information Session, which was recorded on 28 May 2020 in the form of a virtual meeting. Click here to watch.
UPOV update on PLUTO plant variety database
UPOV on July 3 held a webinar to provide updates on its PLUTO Plant Variety database, which will be introduced from November 2020. The online session also was an opportunity to provide users to provide feedback on the design and new features. From November, the PLUTO database will provide two levels of service including free and premium services. See full webinar on Youtube here.
Meet new Chair of ASTA
John Latham, the President of Latham Hi-Tech Seeds in Iowa, USA, has commenced his tenure as the Chair of the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), taking over from Wayne Gale of Stokes Seeds. John has a long history of service with ASTA, having previously held positions as Vice Chair, North Central Region Vice President, and Chairman of Seed First Political Action Committee. He also has served as chairman of the ASTA’s Corn & Sorghum Division and Legislative and Legal Affairs Committee. John also follows his father Bill Latham who was President of ASTA in 1998. More info can be found here on ASTA’s website, as well as in this video introductory video, in which Mr. Latham says he will prioritize innovation and gene editing
Grow Asia webinar on eCommerce & social media opportunities
During its second Grow Asia Digital Learning Series session in 2020, a GrowAsia webinar on June 30 explored opportunities in using chat and social media platforms to reach farmers. The session featured findings from a study GrowAsia conducted with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and talks from a number of interesting experts, including Elizabeth Hernandez from Corteva Agriscience, Kim Huat Low from Yara International, Phatthanai Suwanvongkij from East-West Seed and Christina Lee from The Goat Agency. More details, as well as full list of speakers and webinar video here.
Argentina adds new requirements to regulated pest list for chili and tomato seeds
From June 16, 2020, Argentina added new requirements to its list of regulated pests for Capsicum annuum and Solanum lycopersicum originating in countries in which the pest is present. The notified text provides for the inclusion of the pests Columnea latent viroid, Pepper chat fruit viroid, Tomato apical stunt viroid, Xanthomonas euvesicatoria pv. perforans, Xanthomonas cynarae pv. gardneri and Xanthomonas euvesicatoria pv. euvesicatoria on the list of regulated pests and phytosanitary requirements governing the importation of Capsicum annuum and Solanum lycopersicum seeds for propagation from countries in which the pest is present. The requirements were initially notified to the WTO in January here
CRISPRcon returns virtually September and October
CRISPRcon, “a unique forum bringing diverse voices together to discuss the future of CRISPR and related gene editing technologies across applications in agriculture, health, conservation” will be conducted virtually this year “with a series of discussions exploring gene editing’s role in COVID-19 testing and treatment, racial disparities and inequities, strategies to address climate change, and other pressing issues.. The 10 webinars under five themes will be held online. More info here. Stand by for more updates.
Locusts swarms devour swathes of Asian farmland
Locust infestations continue to spread across Asia. As reported widely thus far in 2020, desert locusts (Schistocerca gregaria) have eaten their way through crops in India, Pakistan, Iran and Saudia Arabia, with Nepal being the latest South Asian country to report detection. As reported here, officials in Nepal are initially encouraging people to catch the insects instead of using pesticides. Farmers have been offered up to 25 rupees (21 US cents) for every kg of the locusts, which can be fed to chickens and other livestock. Mosquito nets are reportedly effective to catch the pests. Meanwhile a different crop-hungry locust species is feeding on farms in China, Laos and Vietnam. According to this report, a swarm of the yellow-spined bamboo locusts (Ceracris kiangsu) has destroyed at least 277ha of bamboo forests and corn fields in eight provinces across Vietnam, including Son La, Dien Bien, Bac Kan, Cao Bang, Lang Son, Phu Tho, Quang Ninh and Thanh Hoa. The swarms reportedly came to Vietnam from China via Laos, reaching Thanh Hoa province by early June and Dien Bien Province by July 20.
Floodwaters engulf crops, homes and livelihoods across region
Bad weather has caused extreme hardship for farmers in East and South Asia in June and July. By July 19, in India’s Assam and neighbouring Nepal, nearly four million people had been displaced by heavy flooding with a death toll of at least 189, according to this report, noting that the Brahmaputra River, which flows through China’s Tibet, India and Bangladesh, has flooded crops and triggered mudslides, displacing millions. According to this report, thousands of hectares of farmland were destroyed in northern Bangladesh, with floodwaters drowning out paddy fields, vegetable farms and seedbeds, affecting some four million people in 30 districts, especially in Lalmonirhat, Kurigram, Tangail, Thakurgaon, Gaibandha, Nilphamari, Sirajganj, Bogura, Manikganj, Sunamganj and Sylhet, among others. Aside from paddy, jute, maize, green chillies, and other vegetables have become submerged. In Pakistan, it was reported that ‘Glacier floods’ were estroying crops in Chitral. According to Xinhua, the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) feared that the country would face flash floods triggered by a glacier lake outburst flooding in the country’s northwest district of Chitral. The fear of glaciers bursting was linked to a prevailing heatwave.
China has especially been affected by excess rain, flooding and overflowing rivers. At a briefing by the State Council on July 13, it was revealed that, since June, a total of 433 rivers across the country had reached or breached peak levels. The Yangtze River, the upper reaches of the Yellow River, the Xijiang River and Beijiang River in the Pearl River Basin, and the Taihu Lake were all at historical flood levels. The briefing was also told that since the beginning of this year, more than 2.24 million people have been displaced by disaster, with floods affecting 27 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities across the country. By official count, there were 141 dead or missing, 29,000 houses destroyed, and direct economic losses of 86.16 billion yuan ($12.3 billion), and some 516,000 hectares of cropland destroyed. According to another report by Sina.com floods this year have especially affected Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Chongqing, Sichuan, and Guizhou and the crop area affected was more than 2.67 million hectares. Flooding and/or drought has also affected Australia, India and Thailand during this time
Origin of seed packets a mystery
China Seed Association has issued a statement China authorities have are looking into allegations whether mysterious seed packets, reportedly sent to random addresses in the US, originated in China. According to Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin, “Plant seeds are articles prohibited as imports (or in transit) or admitted conditionally for UPU member countries. China Post strictly follows the UPU provisions and prohibits seeds from conveyance by post. USPS recently found some packages of seeds with address labels suggesting they were sent from China. After verification with China Post, those address labels turned out to be fake ones with erroneous layouts and entries. China Post has contacted US Postal Service, asking it to send those fake packages to China for investigation.” News of the packets had circulated onlinee in July, prompting the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (APHIS) to issue statements on the matter.
APSA, CNSTA unite seed industry voice in webinar on Covid19 Impacts
APSA and the China National Seed Trade Association (CNSTA) successfully organized a three-session, two-day online seminar (May 26 and 27), which featured dozens of seed industry experts and executives representing national and regional seed associations, as well as leading seed enterprises. The aim of the webinar was not only to highlight the “Impacts of COVID-19 on the Seed Trade” but to lay out the stakes for the path and trends moving forward. Seed industry speakers and panelists represented 13 countries inside and outside the Asia-Pacific region, including China, India, Pakistan, Japan, Australia, the Philippines, Thailand, South Korea, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Chile and the USA. All in the webinar was joined by more than 50,000 participants from across the world, who tuned in via Zoom, Youtube, Wechat and Tencent broadcasting platforms. Making mass broadcasting possible in mainland China — where a majority of participants joined from — was technical support from Southern Rural News Agriculture Wealth. A summary report of the webinar is being prepared and will be shared via APSA website and included ash part of comprehensive coverage of COVID19 impats in the upcoming Q2 of Asian Seed Magazine. Meanwhile, videos and all presentations from the three sessions can be accessed here.
International Seed Federation to hold Virtual Congress 8 – 10 June
ISF Secretary General Michael Keller says, “The International Seed Federation, as the voice of the private seed sector, is not staying silent,” despite postponement of the ISF’s World Seed Congress 2020 in South Africa: to fill the gap, his organization invites all to the ISF’s interactive, no-cost Virtual Congress, streaming live 8 – 10 June and accessible through 17 June. Register free via this link
Seed movement under COVID-19: ISF engages region reps
ISF has engaged leaders from regional and national seed associations in a series of video Q&As to get insights on how the COVID-19 crisis has impacted the industry. Special thanks to: AFSTA, APSA, Euroseeds, SAA, SANSOR, Tunisian Seed Association, China Seed Association, Australian Seed Federation, Plantum, ANOVE, ASTA and ANPROS. The interviews can be viewed via the following links:
ISTA holds first ever ISTA Rules Meeting
The International Seed Testing Association’s 2020 Rules Session meeting was held in the virtual format for the first time. Held on May 19, the meeting, which is part of the process of updating ISTA Rules provided a glance over the 2021 edition changes proposed by ISTA members. The two-hour meeting can be watched in its entirety on Youtube via this link.
EPSA Exec. Director interviewed by Germination
APSA Executive Director, Dr. Kanokwan Chodchoey (May) was featured in an interview with Canada-based Germination magazine, in which she shared her ideas, thoughts and experiences about the direction and priorities of the Asia-Pacific seed industry, especially with regards to Intellectual Property Rights. Read the full interview here.
Global Cotton Industry Freefalls with Reduced Asian Demand
Seed World Magazine published an article 12 May on plummeting cotton demand arising from COVID-19, with severe effect on the global cotton supply chain: “Unexpected reduction in cotton mill use data is observed across all of the major cotton spinning countries, including
China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey and Vietnam.” Full article here.
Amphan Ravages Eastern India and Bangladesh
The worst cyclone in 100 years swept through India and Bangladesh 20th May killing at least 102 people. Damage to built-up areas and farms was estimated at US$13 billion in India; US$130 million in Bangladesh. The U.N. children’s fund (UNICEF) said the storm and its after-effects put 19 million children at risk. In Kolkata, home to nearly 15 million people, Cyclone Amphan tore roofs off buildings, smashed windows, pulled down trees and pylons and overturned cars. 2.4 million people were evacuated before Amphan made landfall from
Bangladesh’s low-lying coastal district of Bhola, and 650,000 from the states of Odisha and West Bengal in Eastern India. In Bangladesh, the threat to standing crops and fertile land led officials to help farmers move produce and hundreds of thousands of animals to higher ground. Luckily, the rice harvest was mostly complete. In India’s West Bengal, two districts in the Ganges delta were hit hard, with homes and crops destroyed, communications snapped, power cut and bridges unusable. The West Bengal coastal villages of Dhinkia, Nuagaon, Gadakujanga, Ambiki, Gadaharishpur and Padmapur in Jagatsinghpur District’s Erasama block were the worst hit. Harvested crops were damaged in storage by the downpours, along with 1,500 betel vines. 25,000 people were evacuated: 16,840 to 299 cyclone shelters; 5,000 shifted to private buildings and educational institutions on their own. The cyclone affected more than 13 million people and damaged over 1.5 million houses.
Voracious locust swarms prey on Pakistan, India and Iran
A devastating pest is rapidly eating its way through farmland in West and South Asia, and the damage mounting. As if the threat of Fall Armyworm weren’t worrying enough, now agriculture officers in Pakistan, India and Iran are rallying to fight swarms of hungry, migratory locusts. Believed to have originated in Africa and the Middle East, the pests since last year have caused sleepless nights for farmers in the three countries, and the situation appears to have escalated in April and May as farmers harvest spring crops, and prepare to sow for the coming season. A comprehensive report will be featured in Asian Seed Magazine Q2, out in June.
SA’s Klein Karoo ISTA Accredited
ISTA, via LinkedIn, on May 22 announced accreditation of APSA-member Klein Karoo Seed Quality Service Laboratory in Oudtshoorn, South Africa. The certificate is valid till 29 January, 2023 and covers sampling, purity, germination, and weight tests for cereals, small legumes, pulses, vegetables and other agricultural crops.
APSA – FAO Seed Legislation Study Published
The APSA – FAO study “Status of Seed Legislation and Policies in the Asia-Pacific Region” reviewing seed legislation in the Asia-Pacific and offering recommendations for future development is now available as an eBook for several platforms. Download it from
ISF Response to Covid-19 Crisis
The ISF has issued a number of responses over the last month outlining the organization’s position on matters related to seed and the world virus shutdown, including the “ISF Response to the Call to Action by the Food and Land Use Coalition”, “Contribution by FSII members towards COVID19 relief measures”, the “Joint letter from ISTA and ISF on the extension of accreditation certificates for seed health testing laboratories”, and “Safeguarding the food chain and International Seed Movement under the COVID-19 Crisis”. More details on ISF website
World Economic Forum Says Covid-19 Shutdown Could Worsen Hunger Crisis
The WEF notes that Covid-19 measures closing schools means many children miss their only hot meal of the day; that quarantine regulations disrupt supply chains; and that the crisis could plunge half a billion people into poverty while world trade reduces by up to a third. Meanwhile, quarantine regulations and partial port closures cause slowdowns in the shipping industry and border restrictions interdict trucking.
World Food Program Director Warns of ‘Biblical’ Famine
The United Nations World Food Program Director David Beasley warned the UN Security Council of “a hunger pandemic” owing to the Covid-19 crisis, with “multiple famines of biblical proportions” coming soon. “We could be looking at famine in about three dozen countries,” he said, adding “more people could die from the economic impact of COVID-19 than from the virus itself.”
FAO Recommendations for Food Industry Workers
In “COVID-19 and the Risk to Food Supply Chains: How to Respond?”, the FAO advises food industry employers on measures to consider in order to keep the supply chain alive: keep all workers healthy and safe; maintain movement of food along the food chain; and have Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS) based on the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles in place. Read the full document here.
Advanta Seeds Covid-19 Crisis Video
Advanta Seeds has released a video on Twitter, with the accompanying tweet: “#Farmers worldwide are feeling the effects of #Covid19. This pandemic only reinforces our commitment…” which is linked and updated on APSA’s Covid-19 Resources page.
Channel News Asia Commentary by Dr May and CLA Director Dr Siang Hee Tan
APSA Executive Director Dr Kanokwan Chodchoey and CropLife Asia Executive Director Dr Siang Hee Tan wrote in Channel News Asia recently about challenges arising from the Covid-19 crisis. Their recommendations: ASEAN economic ministers must ensure food security endangered by the economic shutdown via cross-ministerial coordination while acting on farmers’ feedback. Read the full article here.
CLA Webinar with APO on Supply Chain Effects
In the latest Asian Productivity Organization’s Productivity Talk Webinar (Thursday, 23 April 2020), CLA Executive Director Dr Siang Hee Tan discusses COVID-19 and the agriculture industry, spotlighting the crisis-spawned labor shortages, supply, environmental and pest pressures to be overcome. See the webinar stream here.
Shipping Down 11%, Fruit Rots in Myanmar and Kenya, Thai Bodybuilders Sell Durian and Malaysian Fruit Demand Skyrockets
Global shipping is off 11% (among the majors up to 17%) for the first half of 2020, while container shipping availability disappears — both attributed to the Covid-19 crisis by maritime intelligence company eeSea. Meanwhile, Kenyan banana farmers let thousands of ha rot after markets and hotels closed in Mombasa; in Myanmar, fruit traders can’t get their product across the border to China in time, owing to Covid-19 entry restrictions; and in Thailand out-of-work bodybuilders flex their muscles selling durians, while demand for fruits high in Vitamin C skyrockets in Malaysia as a hedge against the virus. Read the full reports on Fresh Plaza.
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 even in these difficult times; to reiterate that there is currently no evidence that food is a likely route of transmission of the virus. See more on ISF statement on March 23 for seed supply information gathering
IPCC 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. With the challenges of limited travel, access to a safe and stable supply of food is compromised.” Secretary-General of the International Plant Protection Commision, Jingyuan Xia said
EU TO FUND BIOSECURITY PROJECT IN SE ASIA
The European Union launched a €3.5 million regional project to support increased biosecurity in Southeast Asia. The project will help governments to better respond to highly communicable diseases or global biological events, such as pandemics, according to an EU press release.
SEED COMPANIES CONFIRM COMMITMENTS
APSA IPR& Biodiversity report on seed legislation published
The report has now been published on the FAO website here.
FAO engages Asian agri-stakeholders during DG visits to Pakistan, Thailand and Laos
Dr. Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in February made his first visit to several countries in South and Southeast Asia since beginning his term in August 2019.
Last year, Dr. Qu became the first Chinese, and second Asian DG of the FAO, which was covered in Asian Seed Volume 25, Q3 issue (see page 13 here)
His visit to the three Asian countries created engagement opportunities for various agriculture stakeholders, including APSA’s Executive Director, Dr. Kanokwan Chodchoey, who on 17 February joined an informal consultation with FAO representatives and various reps from more than a dozen private sector, academia and civil society organizations in Thailand.
Dr Qu (second right) during the stakeholders consultation in Bangkok. Photo: Asian Seed
Participants discussed ways, ideas and channels to strengthen cooperation in working towards the mandates of the UN’s FAO, especially with respect to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
During the consultation, APSA’s Dr. Chodchoey briefed Dr. Qu, FAO reps and other participants on priorities and activities of APSA members and the greater Asia-Pacific seed industry, including those related to Intellectual Property Rights, Plant Variety Protection, the Systems Approach, Phytosanitary Measures and promoting the UN’s International Year of Plant Health.
In wrapping up the meeting, Dr. Qu stated, “These partnerships are an opportunity to work together in a new way. Working together with you, through our FAO Hand in Hand initiative – an FAO matchmaking initiative – is in all our interests, and most importantly it will help lead us to defeating hunger and poverty by the 2030 deadline.”
During his visit to Thailand, Dr. Qu also met with the Thai Prime Minister, H.E. Prayuth Chan-O-Cha. The FAO DG thanked the Prime Minister and people of Thailand for their long standing support for FAO’s work and, in particular, for hosting the decades-old FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in the capital Bangkok.
Also in Thailand, Dr. Qu also visited a “”smart tomato farm” in Suphanburi province, which was described as a pilot project of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives that employs Precision Agriculture (PA) techniques to grow high yielding tomato crops efficiently and effectively.
Prior to coming to Thailand, Dr. Qu visited Pakistan, where he met with President, H.E. Arif Alv to discuss ways to promote agricultural modernization and rural development with the aim of transforming the country’s agri-food systems and accelerating progress towards the SDGs.
Dr. Qu also visited Laos, where he met with Lao PDR Prime Minister, H.E. Thongloun Sisoulith. According to FAO’s DG news update, the two discussed strategies for sustainable development, and in particular ambitions to enable the landlocked country to graduate from its “Least Developed Country” status by 2024.
APAARI publishes gene-editing consultation recommendations
The Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) has published Proceedings and Recommendations of Expert Consultation on Gene Editing and its Regulation” following the consultation, which was held 10-11 October at the International Crops Research Institute (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad, India. The consultation was attended by APSA Execcutive Director, and covered in Asian Seed magazine, the report of which can be found via this link. (See page 15)
The proceedings and recommendations publication can be downloaded from APAARI’s website via this link.
FAO rallies experts, mobilizes resources to address locust infestation
Attention all seasoned entomologists, especially desert locust experts: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is recruiting international consultants to work for an 11-month period with a “Locusts and Transboundary Plant Pests and Diseases” team, in collaboration with its Resilience Team, to address the spread of the desert locust, which has been causing cropping havoc in various countries in East Africa as well as Central and South Asia. Full job description here.
In related news reported by dunyanews.tv reports that the FAO is already offering been coordinating support for several Asian countries affected by the locust infestation, including Pakistan, India, Iran and Afghanistan.
Standing crops were reported to be badly damaged in Pakistan’s Lakki Marwat district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, according to this report.
The Nation Pakistan also reports that China will offer support to its ally in South Asia by setting up an “emergency project to help Pakistan prepare pesticide and spraying equipment.”
Record cold, snow in Kuwait Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran
Thousands of dinars in damage was inflicted in February for farmers whose crops were destroyed by sub-zero temperatures in Abdali and Wafra of Kuwait. The crop losses affected exposed potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and pepper, reports Al-Anba daily.
Likewise, harsh and record cold and snow during the month has caused havoc for farmers and locals in several countries across the region.
Record low temperatures ranging between minus 20 to minus 40 degrees Celsius have been reported along with a number of snow and cold-weather related deaths and incidents reported in Turkey — in Göle, Aşkale, Kars and Ardaha.
Fresh Plaza reports that more than 70% of horticulture companies in the Adana region — where some 30,000 hectares are used to cultivate citrus crops — have suffered heavy damages due to minus 15 degree temperatures early in February.
Likewise, fields in Northwest Syria, around the town of al-Malikiyah (Derik) near the Turkish border, were photographed to be blanketed in snow that would have certainly frozen any exposed crops.
In northwest Iran, snow totals of as much as six meters were responsible for cutting off water and electricity to many regions, especially Qarah Bolagh district. The “first snow in a century” was also reported in southern Iraq.
To better understand the scientific and geological implications of such cold-weather”Climate Change” trends, and implications for the seed industry, see also Asian Seed comprehensive report conducted on the subject in 2017.
DECEMBER 2019 & JANUARY 2020
Welcome to 2020: the International Year of Plant Health #IYPH2020
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as much as 40% of global food crop production is lost every year due to plant pests and diseases. To raise awareness about this while highlighting the significance of plant health in global food security, the FAO has declared 2020 the International Year of Plant Health. The official launch event of IYPH 2020 was held December 2 2019 at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy. Inaugurating the event, FAO Director-General, Mr Qu Dongyu said “Plants provide the core basis for life on Earth and are the single most important pillar of human nutrition. But healthy plants are not something that we can take for granted … As we launch this international year, plant health is increasingly under threat. Read more on the website of the International Plant Protection Commission. Also, Asian Seed Magazine Quarter 1, 2020 issue will feature an article with more news about #IYPH2020, including activities and initiatives by NPPOs and governments in the APSA region.
7th ISTA List of Stabilized Plant Names Released
The Nomenclature Committee of the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) has announced the 7th and latest edition of ISTA List of Stabilized Plant Names, which is available on the ISTA website here. The previous six editions were completed and published in 1966, 1983, 1988, 2001, 2007, and 2013. Individual names on the List are to be stabilized for a period of at least six years. The latest edition includes many changes or adjustments in nomenclature for the plants, which have mostly resulted from recent advancements in taxonomic classification or from the nomenclatural actions of an International Botanical Congress, the latter reflected in the 2018 International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (Shenzhen Code) (ICN) adopted by the 2017 Shenzhen Congress (N. J. Turland et al., Regnum Vegetabile 159, Koeltz Botanical Books, 2018). Proposed changes to the List were evaluated individually by Nomenclature Committee members and voted upon. From these results, a document containing the “Proposed Changes to the ISTA List of Stabilized Plant Names” approved by Committee vote was submitted to and approved by the 32nd ISTA Congress in Hyderabad, India, in 2019. At the Congress, ISTA members recommended that codes used by the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) be added to the List. The current list includes UPOV codes and links to their GENIE database.
WBA names 2,000 ‘most influential companies’ for attaining SDGs
The World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) has published a list of 2,000 “most influential companies”, which the organization says is criticial to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The SDG2000 list identifies the 2,000 most influential companies in various sectors, and based in 74 countries around the world, who together represent $43 trillion in revenue. Represented on the list are 350 “Food and Agriculture” companies, including several prominent multinational conglomerates with holdings and investment in the Asia-Pacific seed industry. Among them are Bayer (Monsanto), BASF (Nunhems), Charoen Pokphand (Chiatai), Corteva (DowDupont & Pioneer), China National Chemical Corporation (ChinaChem & Syngenta), Limagrain (HM.Clause, Vilmorin-Mikado and UPL (Advanta /Pacific Seeds), among others.
World Food & Agriculture in Numbers
According to an estimate by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) agriculture in 2017 used an estimated 37 percent of global land area; more than half of that was in Asia. This estimate, and related insights and statistics — related to population, cropping, productivity, supply, demand, hunger, malnutrition and sustainability — are covered in the FAO’s 2019 World Food and Agriculture Statistical Pocketbook, a 242-page digital publication (download here), which includes statistical profiles of all the world’s regions and countries, comparing vital data from 1997, 2007 and 2017.
First phase of US-China trade deal signed
Trade officials from the world’s two largest economies in January signed what has been dubbed by many observers as a historical “first-phase” deal, easing tensions in the so-called “trade war” between the two superpowers. China has pledged to buy American ag goods as US cut tariffs on some Chinese goods. According to one report, China agreed to boost purchases of US goods and services by $200 billion over the next two years, including “$77.7 billion for manufactured goods and $32 billion for agricultural products.” In exchange, the US agreed to “halve 15 percent tariffs on $120 billion of Chinese imports, but leave 25 percent tariffs on an additional $250 billion of imports in place.” The report speculates that the deal could enable US agricultural exports to China to increase by as much as 50%, and thus provide “economic relief to farmers who have lost business … as a result of the trade war.” Indeed, US agricultural exports to China plummeted, estimated by about $21 billion, after trade relations deteriorated in 2018. Prior to that, “China was once the largest market for US agricultural products.” Now, the US is reportedly sitting on a “record number of soybeans in storage”, as China started purchasing more soybeans from Brazil after trade relations have broke down, according to CNN.
Locust swarms still threatening Pakistani and Indian crops
Following last year’s costly infestation of locusts that have devastated standing crops in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, the pest seemed to had been contained in the latter two countries thanks to pest management and pesticide spraying protocal; however, reports in early 2020 suggest that a new wave of the pest is still attacking crops in South Asia. According to ARY News, the pest has “now landed in Sahiwal and surrounding areas … [and has] attacked standing crops of wheat, mustard and potatoes on hundreds of acres farmlands in Kumair, Harappa, Bangla, Cheechawatani and other areas of the region.” Locusts, in addition to mealybugs, were to blame for declining horticulture productivity in Sindh. Likewise the pest was reported to have resurfaced in Gujarat’s Banaskantha district, attacking crops there, invading parts of villages like Mavsar, Kundaliya and Radhanesda close to the border adjoining Pakistan.