Seed laws aid in the orderly marketing of seed. They establish regulations governing the sale of seed, thereby providing protection to both buyers and sellers. No country can expect to have a well-developed, effective seed industry without seed control regulations.
Seed laws are basically truth-in-labeling laws, which require that seed be truthfully labeled as to quality and thereby allow seed buyers to make intelligent, informed decisions about seed purchases. This concept of marketing is in sharp contrast to the "caveat emptor" (let the buyer beware) Philosophy which prevailed in early English markets and which still prevails in some areas of the world today.
Although some seed laws are designed to protect even the uninformed consumer, most rec only that the seed be completely labeled for quality. It is assumed that buyers read the label and select seed lots that meet their criteria.
There were even documented cases "factories" established for the purpose of preparing so-called seed for sale. Often this was done by coloring small gravel and other inert material to substitute for, or mix with, the seed offered for sale
SEED POLICY, LEGISLATION AND LAW: WIDENING A NARROW FOCUS
Seed is a major technology transfer vehicle and the efficiency of seed supply systems to cater for the needs of different types of farmers is an issue in agricultural development policies. At the same time, seed is a (potential) commercial productand it is the carrier of valuable genetic resources. Seed policies have concentratedon the commercialisation aspects. More recently, however, the development valueof seed for resource-poor farmers and the policies for in-situconservation of plant genetic resources have created a more diverse interest in seed supply, especially farmers’ seed systems and participatory approaches in breeding and seed provision. This creates the need to involve in the seed policy debate, not only conventional seed specialists, but also environmental specialists, (small) business development specialists and social scientists. The governments may take three different positions in the regulation of seed supply chains: competition, cooperation, control. In addition to domestic objectives, seed regulation is influenced more and more by international agreements.
THE RULES FOR INTERNATIONAL SEED TRADE
Governments may impose several rules on the seed industry, e.g., on variety registration,seed certification, etc. There is, however, a whole body of seed regulations that operates outside the direct control of national governments. These are business rules in international seed trade that seed producers and merchants conclude among themselves under the auspices of the International Federation for Seeds (FIS). These rules are aimed at increasing transparency in business, and at reducing and resolving conflicts. This paper describes the main provisions of this system. In no circumstance this paper may, however, be used to replace those rules. The complete rules can be found at
The international harmonisation of these ‘Rules for International Seed Trade’
and especially of the definitions used, greatly facilitate the development of an internationally operating seed industry. Governments should be aware of the existence of the rules, and of the detailed coverage for seed trade contracts and their conflict resolution through this system.
EUROPEAN SEED LAWS
In contrast to the truth-in-labeling seed laws in the United States, most European seed laws are based on the assumption that the government knows what is best for the farmer. Delany European seed laws strictly control what is to be sold within or imported into a country. This is clone in various ways.
In France, seeds of varieties of most cereals, herbage crops, peas, vetches, horse beans, white clover, and the most important grasses cannot be sold unless the variety name appears on the official list. Only certified seed of these varieties can be sold. Field trials for approval of varieties are conducted by an official government agency. Five years of testing are required for approval. France has one of the most restrictive seed laws in effect, and its seed laic being used as a model by other countries.
England's varietal protection law has a varietal indexing system, official trials for testing all varieties submitted, and a list of acceptable varieties based on their performance. Although participation in the official tests is voluntary, seed cannot be sold by varietal name unless it has been entered into the testing program.
Most other European countries have rather restrictive seed laws similar to those in France and England. Until recently, Denmark had no seed law but relied almost entirely on an education approach to consumer protection. However, due to their membership in the European Common Market, they have recently drafted and adopted seed control legislation similar to that in other common market countries.
CANADIAN SEED LAWS
The Canadian Seed Control Act was enacted in 1905 to set minimum standards for pure seed. common and noxious weed content, and germination. It was amended ill 1911 to establish more definite requirements. In 1923, a gradingsystemwas intro- duced for all seeds in commerce. The Seed Branch of Agriculture Canada (the Canadian Department of Agriculture) provides the seed inspection work for law enforcement.
The philosophy of Canadian seed legislation provides truth in labeling for seeds in commerce; however, the Canadian seed law is considerably more protective than the U.S. Federal Seed Act. Crop varieties in Canada arc licensed to protect the seed user or consumer against losses that (:at) occur from the purchase of unknown and inferior seed. Licensing is also intended to prevent deception from the sale of seed under modified or false variety names. The Canadian law provides a system whereby only varieties that have been tested and found agronomically and economically desir- able for Canadian agriculture are allowed to be sold, advertised, or imported. The licensing of varieties is administered by the Plant Products Division of Agriculture.Canada and covers all agricultural and vegetable crop seeds. Seeds of root and vegetable crops, other than seed potatoes, are exempt.
SEED INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT AND SEED LEGISLATION IN UGANDA
Agriculture is the predominant economic activity in Uganda and the government’s
vision is to develop a profitable, competitive, sustainable and dynamic agricultural
and agro-industrial sector. To achieve this requires that the majority smallholder
farmers access yield-enhancing technologies. Seed is regarded as a crucial input
since it is the basic means of technology transfer to farmers.
Policy development for research and seed production and control is put in a historical context, showing the need to regularly update policies, institutions and laws in order to meet the requirements of the changing conditions. Smallholder focus through stimulating participatory plant breeding and stimulating private investment
in the formal seed sector need to be included. Furthermore, the composition
of policy making and implementing bodies changed, and regulations were adapted
with a focus on regional harmonisation.
Seed policies, laws and regulations will need to be reviewed again to accommodate
new trends in the industry such as GMOs, genetic conservation, and
biosafety. A suitable regulatory framework is crucial in strengthening the seed industry.
And a successful seed industry will be instrumental in the government’s
drive to modernise agriculture in Uganda.
SEED LEGISLATION IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
Farmers in most developing countries generally save their own seed from year to year or exchange seed with their neighbors. This system of agriculture involves almost no commerce in seed and has little need for seed control legislation. However, as improved varieties become available and agricultural development occurs, trade in seed naturally follows, leading to the necessity for seed control legislation.
first seed laws in developing countries are usually truth-in-labeling laws, requiring that seed be labeled as to quality, and that such labels truthfully represent the actual seed quality. For such laws to be effective, seed testing laboratories in which quality tests can be performed must be available, and farmers and seed dealers must be encouraged to use these services. Strong research, seed certification, and extension programs also promote effectiveness of seed control legislation.
As agriculture and the seed trade gain sophistication and become more complex, seed legislation tends to become more complex and restrictive. Most countries contemplating seed legislation seek advice from other countries that have Ion,., histories of successful seed legislation.
SEED REGULATORY FRAMEWORKS IN A SMALL FARMER ENVIRONMENT: IN CASE OF BANGLADESH
Seed markets dominated by small resource-poor farmers are usually more difficult
to penetrate because of low purchasing power, farmer’s immobility and information
barriers. Farmer’s subsequent reliance on own or locally traded seed does render
farming systems sustainable but generally prevents significant yield increase
because of a slow influx of new varieties and lack of quality guarantee. Seed regulatory
frameworks in such small-farmer environments should, therefore, strongly
focus on removing barriers for variety introduction and exchange and lay less
emphasis on the control functions.
This article describes the development of the seed regulatory framework in
Bangladesh and gives a detailed account of the current framework introduced in
1993, followed by an assessment of the impact 8 years after implementation.
The new seed regulatory framework has had a significant impact on the level of
private sector investment in the country. Yet, investments are found mainly in the
downstream seed supply, initiated by the introduction of a voluntary system of
seed certification. Further observations show that farmers have better access to
new varieties in crops that are exempted from government control. The frequency
of variety introductions in the remaining five controlled crops has not significantly
increased. As these crops represent more than 90% of the country’s total crop seed
value, it is concluded that the impact of the new framework on variety introduction
and hence on agricultural output has been relatively small. In view of the present
situation, a review of the seed regulatory framework and its monitoring functions is
PLANT BREEDING IN THE DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
In the developing countries much of the initial plant-breeding effort has come from the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research. This group was established in 1971 to co-ordinate the aid given by countries and by public and private institutions in consultation with the developing countries. It supports a network of international research centres with the objective of improving the quantity and the quality of food production in the developing countries.
Plant breeding is a major activity in these research centres, and varieties developed in sonic have provided the basis for the so-called 'green revolution'. I lowever, experience from the early days of the green revolution showed that varieties bred at a central research centre are not necessarily suitable for immediate exploitation in countries far removed from that centre. Consequently it is still necessary to establish a plant-breedingcapability in each country to adapt the products of general research to local needs. The Consultative Group has concentrated its effort on co-operation with government-financed institutions in the developing countries and private seed companies have been little involved.
In recent years, however, there has been some interest from governments in encouraging private companies to become established in the developing countries. However, there has as yet been virtually no legislation to give protection to private plant-breeders, and where private companies have attempted to enter the market it has usually been in crops where hybrid varieties can be used to give them a biological patent oil their products. They have made use of the technology from the developed market economics front which they are derived. This is not necessarily the best way to encourage the development of private plant-breeding in the developing countries, and we need to give more consideration to ways in which a profitable private contribution can he made in these situations. For many of the crops concerned it is necessary to promote a large-volume seed sate with a relatively low profit margin. With encouragement from the government a profitable seed trade — but not yet allied exclusively to a private plant-breeding capability — has been achieved by seed growers' co-operatives in the Phillipines with rice (FAO 1986).
SEED QUALITY CONTROL IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
Quality, in terms of purity and ability to establish a field stand of the desired plants,
is the primary value factor of seed and a concern for every seed supplier. Thus, a
primary task of the seed industry is achieving quality in production, maintaining
quality in processing and handling, and establishing reproducible ways to measure
quality and using these throughout the seed chain.
Seed certification and seed testing systems are aimed at providing high quality
seed to farmers, and also at stimulating the seed industry, farmer use of better seed,
and the national economy. The balance between internal (in-company) and external
(official or private) seed quality control has to be adequate for the level of the
country’s seed industry development and farmer seed usage. Voluntary seed quality
control, truth-in labeling and branding are alternatives to full seed certification
systems that suffer from under-investment and under-staffing in many countries.
Government policies and subsequent national legislation have to carefully balance
the advantages and disadvantages of the different options. Governments can
promote the development of a competitive seed industry through (compulsory or
voluntary) seed quality control services while at the same time protecting their
farmers. As a competitive private sector develops, the government’s role may
gradually decline. Despite the needs for a certain level of international harmonisation,
there is no single blueprint solution to the regulation of seed quality, nor are
there standard solutions to the institutional aspects.
FIELDS AND IMPORTANCES OF SEED LEGISLATION
Seed Production Systems.
Seed production in the formal seed supply systems differs from country to country, but many of the present systems have similar principals. In general, multiplication of recommended varieties begin with the release of a variety. Pre-release multiplication is undertaken by research and state owned enterprises if a larger seed volume is required for widespread release. Breeders’ seed, and/or foundation and basic seed is produced under research supervision in order to ensure genetic and physical purity. State farms and semi-autonomous seed companies would undertake the production of certified seed under the supervision of a seed certifying agency.
In some instances, especially in countries such as India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka the public sector uses private seed companies or approved contract growers to produce certified seed. The seed that is purchased from growers after certification is processed, cleaned, packaged and stored by the public enterprises. This is a model that is recently becoming popular in many other Asian countries, especially when the volume of seed to be produced cannot be handled by the public sector alone.
India reported that private seed companies and sometimes growers’ cooperatives take active roles in seed production either from breeders’ seed supplied by the public sector agencies or from their own varieties that have been approved by the national variety registration and release committee. When the private seed companies use the contract growers, they provide supplementary assistance such as subsidized inputs, supervised credit and inspection to ensure high quality, in addition to the certification services provided by the national seed certifying agencies. Most of the vegetable seed and some cereals are produced in this manner in India. Due to new liberalization policies, a substantial number of private seed companies have been established in India. The private seed sector prefers to produce high value crops and hybrids as their investments are geared towards greater margins of profit. Unlike the public seed sector which maintain buffer stocks of seed, the private sector tends to supply only sufficient seed to meet market demands.
In a few countries such as Thailand, Republic of Korea and Japan, breeders’ seed is directly supplied to reputable seed farmers who grow, process and market the seed on their own as ‘commercial ’ seed or ‘truthfully labeled’ seed.
Only the formal seed sector in a few countries such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Thailand, the Philippines, India, China and DPRK have public sector organizations which undertake seed production of potato and have invested heavily in this crop. Some of these countries in Asia obtain their annual certified seed requirements of potato from European seed companies. Others purchase small quantities of basic seed and use this material in local multiplication programmes to produce their own certified and commercial seed. Yet others are assisted with pre-basic seed by the International Potato Center (CIP) on a regular basis to ensure virus-free material in the seed production programmes. In countries such as China, DPRK, Thailand and India, the formal seed sector is well equipped with tissue culture and virus cleaning facilities and is independent of any multinational companies. The private sector has also entered the potato seed production business in a few countries in the region.
Production of Basic Seed
As important to the success of a seed programme as maintenance is the provision of Basic Seed of varieties. For a variety to reach the farmer, seed of it must be multiplied and the start of large-scale multiplication must be the Basic Seed produce(] under the supervision of the plant breeder. The quality of the end product - the seed used by farmers - depends on the quality of the Basic Seed from which it is derived.
For the government which is intent on using seed as an instrument for agricultural improvement. therefore, it is essential to provide some means whereby the quality of Basic Seed can be ensured. This is normally done by specifying standards for Basic Seed either in the seed law or in regulations made under it. The latter is the more usual.
Where ther, are standards set in this way it is necessary to provide some means of checking that the seed which is distributed meets the standards. This is usually done by requiring tests to be made of Basic Seed, especially pre-control tests to determine varietal authenticity and purity.
Seed produced by the formal seed sector is required to go through several testing procedures in order to maintain quality. The investment to implement such procedures is important to give credibility to the product marketed. Seed legislation that stipulates quality standards for each crop need to be followed. Physical and genetic purity, isolation distances of seed lots to avoid pollen contamination in cross-pollinated crops, seed health, vigor and germinability in the field and the seed laboratory are basic elements in a quality control programme. China, India, Nepal, Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Japan, Taiwan and Thailand are members of the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) and adhere to standard seed testing procedures. There is no seed legislation in force in Bhutan, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Laos at the time of reporting. These countries, however, have their own internal quality control systems following ISTA guidelines. In many instances, seed certification procedures are applicable only to major staples while other crops are subjected to internally controlled testing procedures that vary in every country.
The majority of countries in the region have processing facilities but many have insufficient capacities to meet full requirements. For example, in China, nearly half the seed is hand threshed and cleaned. Seed cleaning, transport to the processing units and distribution to peripheral units for storage increase seed production costs. In other countries, mobile processing units are used to reduce costs. In some countries, most of the seed production programmes are concentrated in areas close to processing plants to reduce transport cost. The contract growers usually pre-clean seed often by traditional methods before supplying it to processing centers.
In Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Southern India the majority of crops mature at the same time in a given season, which puts pressure on the cleaning and processing system. This situation forces seed producing organizations in these countries to handle more than one crop. Due to lack of facilities and trained personnel, these countries register substantial losses each season. The coordination of seed multiplication, transport, processing, bagging, storage and marketing require enormous managerial and technical skill to maintain the quality throughout.
Three levels of storage are used in the formal seed supply systems in Asia. There are short-term storage at processing plants and other processing points, medium-term storage between processing plants and marketing outlets and long term storage (usually less than 2 years) for seed security in the event of natural disasters and crop failures during certain years. In specific instances, the tropical climate does not provide the environment for the storage of vegetable seeds and air-conditioned storage is essential to maintain viability. These facilities are capital intensive and expensive to maintain. Air-conditioned storage also falls within the long-term storage category. In climates where low temperatures and low humidity is experienced, some countries such as China and India, resort to open air storage for short periods when permanent storage facilities are insufficient. Durable seeds, such as cereals, are also stored in this manner without losing their viability provided the seed is well dried and protected from foreign materials and pests. India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka have recently invested in storage systems for their seed corporations and have better facilities similar to those found in the countries of south East Asia and the Far East. Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia are countries with high humidity and seed degeneration is fast if humidity control measures are not adopted.
In order to protect strategic seed reserves, many countries resort to storage in regions where seeds can be kept viable at lower cost. Movement of large stocks of seed to disaster areas in times of need may require sophisticated transport equipment that could reach distribution points quickly. Long-term storage, however, entails the additional cost of re-cleaning seed before distribution, as a certain percentage is lost in storage. At times of replacement, older seed stocks are sold to the consumer market to recover some of the costs. At the village level, some countries in Asia have developed inexpensive storage facilities for durable seeds, mostly cereals, in order to reduce storage costs.
Informal Seed Supply Systems
The informal seed supply systems are comprised of farmer-managed seed production and management systems and are based on indigenous knowledge and local diffusion mechanisms. These systems include methods such as retaining seed on-farm from previous harvests to plant the following season and farmer-to-farmer seed exchange networks (Cromwell et al., 1992). There has been little or no government emphasis on the informal seed supply sector in Asia and little is known about its operation in the region. As a result, there is a dearth of documentation relating to the informal seed sector. The information provided in this document on informal seed supply systems is mainly limited to data obtained from the Country Reports and other technical reports provided by countries including Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Laos.
Integrating Formal and Informal Seed Supply Systems
Integration of the public and private seed sectors has been essential for the successful development of the seed industry in several countries. A similar integration is critical to the development of sustainable seed supplies to maintain the level of agricultural productivity necessary for food security in Asia-Pacific. With the new open market policies and more liberalized economies of many Asian nations, the private seed sector has made considerable progress in the production, sale, importation and export of seed.
The emerging private seed sector in India is an example of integration where breeders’ seed and pre-basic seed is sold to private seed companies to produce registered seed and part of the certified seed. Reputable seedsmen from the informal sector are given contracts by the public and private seed sectors to multiply certified seed. A greater percentage of contract grown seed goes through the certification process and enters the formal seed distribution system. The balance of seed that is tested for germination and physical purity but does not go through all the stages of certification, would receive the "truthfully labeled" status. Farmers purchase this seed from the seedsmen and contract growers directly, at lower prices than is paid for certified seed. In this manner, the national seed system has become very dynamic and able to reach farmers through all three channels. Other countries such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand and Indonesia are also integrating their seed industries, irrespective of the dominant role of public sector organizations in the past.
Without collaboration between the formal and informal systems, it will be difficult to achieve substantial improvements in seed production in most Asia-Pacific countries. Collaboration is also fundamental to the preservation of farmers’ traditional varieties and protection of indigenous germplasm from genetic erosion.
With the emergence of the private seed sector, many countries are confronted with the respective roles of each sector. For instance, in the public sector there has been heavy investment in human resource and infrastructure development. In every country in the region, plant breeding activities, technology generation and management expertise lie with public enterprises. In most instances, the emphasis in these ventures has been on the handling of staples and other open-pollinated crops. Private seed companies often avoid investment in such crops and focus on hybrid seed and cash crops where farmers are affluent enough to purchase such seed or in places where government provides financial support to the private sector for such programmes.
Effective collaboration between the two systems should be possible. The tasks of seed production, processing, storage and distribution within each area should be the functions of the informal sector, while germplasm conservation, plant breeding and variety development, elite seed production, quality control and purity maintenance could be the primary functions of the formal seed sector.
Seed Marketing And Distribution.
Historically, seed distribution systems have existed in Asia-Pacific agrarian societies for thousands of years. Good seed was sacred to ancient civilizations. In times of war and famine, the state granaries owned by feudal monarchies distributed seed for food as well as for crop production. Village leaders, rich landlords and better resourced farmers continued the traditional practice of barter, exchanging consumption grain or other produce for good seed at planting time. A form of credit was offered to tenant farmers by landlords who expected a share of the harvest for the seed offered as credit.
Even today, the lateral spread of landraces or modern varieties take place in most of Asia through sale and/or exchange of seed, completely independent of the activities of the formal seed sector. In recent times, many communities have changed the barter system to a modern marketing system, where seedsmen in rural societies have commercialized the marketing of seed to growers. If government subsidies or credit are not available, credit is provided by traders who either charge an interest on the cultivation loans provided, or expect the return of the loan with interest in kind.
More than 90% of the farmers of Asia are either small-scale commercial farmers who have to sell their surplus production to the market, or subsistence farmers who grow crops for their own needs. Large commercial farms are few and dispersed within countries. This situation complicates the distribution and marketing of seeds and planting material.
One of the major reasons why improved seed fails to reach farmers on time is the difficulty of distribution to remote areas. Seed marketing infrastructure is not developed to a sufficient level in most countries of tropical Asia. In others, attempts have been made to establish peripheral distribution and marketing outlets at regional, district and town level, and in cases where the communication network is satisfactory, seed is even distributed at village level. Several countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, ROK, Pakistan and India have closer liaison with the private seed companies and seed merchants to distribute seed produced by the formal seed sector. This has reduced the heavy burden of movement of large seed stocks to distant markets. In countries such as Sri Lanka, Japan and Malaysia that have extensive road networks and private sector seedsmen, seed disposal and marketing systems are efficient. In addition, these countries also have agricultural service centers and cooperatives that also assist in the distribution and marketing of seed. The high crop coverage under improved varieties in these countries illustrates the efficacy of these systems.
Cost of seed sold to farmers depends to a large extent on government policies of each country. Seed marketed by the formal seed supply system is a value-added product, which takes into consideration many factors such as cost of production, multiplication, cleaning, processing, testing, packaging, storage, transport and other costs. Since these seed enterprises are predominantly state-owned organizations, full cost recovery cannot be built into seed prices. Farmers could not afford to pay for the seed. Therefore, the price of seed has to be subsidized by the state.
In Asia, seed prices also depend to some extent on the crop species and varieties, multiplication ratio, seed size and viability of the species and investments needed in handling. Profit motive is of less importance to a public organization but equitable distribution to a larger clientele as a service organization takes priority. Private seed companies in the formal sector often avoid the production of such politically sensitive crops for obvious reasons. By virtue of the fact that a company’s profits determine their survival, any crops which are subsidized are avoided, unless there is a subsidy paid to such companies for producing seed for the public corporations under contract. In any event, the private sector often opts to produce seed of high value crops and hybrids to avoid pricing competition from heavily subsidized programmes.
On-Farm Seed Production Programmes.
The number of on-farm seed production programmes initiated in Asia have increased in recent years. Most of these programmes are supported by governments and assisted by some donors and NGOs. The activities include multiplication of improved selections made by farmers, seed processing, storage and distribution.
Due to the prevailing conditions in some Asian countries, farmer-based seed production systems appear to be the most appropriate strategy for developing effective seed supply systems in the region. Advantages of this model include its simplicity and cost-effectiveness. The development of an effective on-farm seed production system requires that:
(i) surveys are conducted to identify the biological, social, and economic factors of the varieties important to farmers;
(ii) breeders collaborate closely with farmers;
(iii) local germplasm is collected for long-term storage in genebanks for future multiplication and use in production; and
(iv) the low level of technology and minimum quality control procedures that are practiced at the farmer-level are reflected in seed legislation.
When seed programme initiatives are implemented in harsh and fragile environments, crop failures due to drought, floods, hail, frost, and other climatic and edaphic stresses are common. These areas are often situated in remote locations. Under these conditions, it is often difficult to reach targets if unexpected calamities occur. Adequate safeguards frequently cannot be made in time to protect the seed and planting material. In order to avoid these risks, some remedial measures should be taken when designing on-farm seed production programmes, including the following:
(i) areas with some assurance of irrigation or adequate rainfall should be selected and farmers from such areas trained to produce seed;
(ii) short-season and drought-resistant varieties should be the focus of plant breeders, using the genetic material from existing farmers’ varieties and other appropriate sources of disease and pest resistant germplasm;
(iii) as is done in some Asian countries, farmers should be kept informed through radio and other mass communication systems of early warnings of sudden weather fluctuations and have access to advisory services for managing their crops;
(iv) with small investments and support from rural development organizations, every possible water source should be developed;
(v) in order to assure sustainable on-farm production of good quality seeds, farmer groups should receive training on a regular basis; and
(vi) local banks and other lending organizations should be approached to provide credit as an incentive for farmers’ groups interested in on-farm seed production.
Upgrading indigenous systems using the technology available from the formal seed sector would produce the desired goals in food production and food security. The private seed businesses or the public enterprises in isolation or the replacement of one by the other may not provide the desired results. The farmer is a key decision-maker whose participation is needed in the seed production process. Unless this is fully realized, and the seed required is made easily available at affordable prices, investment into any national seed programme is likely to be ineffective.
On-farm seed production programmes can also be provided to farmer groups with low cost seed processing machinery on easy repayment terms, group/village level seed storage structures or "seed banks" where individual farmers can deposit their seed and withdraw when needed. Such machinery and infrastructure, which could be serviced and managed by local farmers, could help sustain the system.
On-Farm Variety Development.
The prevailing farming practices in Asia, the specific requirements of the macro- and micro-ecosystems, and the socio-economic conditions have led to most farmers in the region acting as plant breeders and selecting their own traditional varieties. Farmers have carried out selection of their own indigenous germplasm adapted to their specific ecosystems, crop management systems and socio-economic situations. By virtue of their genetic traits, these landraces have survived and served the farmers for generations. Before the advent of modern breeding methods, farmers acted as the custodians of such valuable germplasm that has a wide genetic base and the ability to survive under many biotic and abiotic stresses.
To prevent any pollen contamination in highly cross-pollinated crops such as capsicum, brassicas, etc., farmers in Asia stagger seed planting such that the main crop will flower and produce seed earlier than the seed plot. In other instances, isolation is achieved by planting a seed plot of vegetable crops in a rice or grain field in the off-season, before the regular vegetable season begins. Another method used in many countries in Asia is to interplant a cross-pollinated vegetable crop in rows interspersed with a highland cereal. In these systems, seed is extracted from the middle of a field. These techniques have evolved over centuries of traditional crop husbandry in the region and farmers have been able to maintain a fair degree of genetic purity. Seeds of traditional varieties have also been selected for good storage qualities, and home/farm-level rustic storage systems ensure re-use of the crop as seed for the following season.
Although genetically and physically the seed quality may not be as high as in the formal seed supply systems, the advantages of low price, seed adaptability and easy access to seeds of traditional varieties offset the difference in quality. However, it should be noted that although farmers’ varieties have better adaptability and tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses compared to many of the available improved varieties, these qualities tend to deteriorate with time. It is, therefore, clear that unless action is taken to assist the informal sector in the improvement of on-farm variety development, seed production, quality control, seed handling and storage, the majority of farmers in Asia will be denied the benefits of modern crop improvement programmes.
Good quality seed of new varieties can enter the same traditional system of seed production if certain refinements are introduced in maintenance of purity and production techniques. If the same traits that farmers prefer in their landraces are incorporated into better performing varieties, farmers can be induced to adopt these new varieties which would increase their food production capacity. With the assistance of the IARCs, many NARS in Asian countries have already embarked on such programmes through a participatory approach in surveying, germplasm collection and utilization of the indigenous gene pools to develop varieties tailor-made to suit traditional systems in the region.
Variety registration and testing systems were developed in industrialised countries
in the first half of the 19th century in order to create transparent seed markets. Differing seed policies in Europe and the USA, based on different perceptions of the role of the government in economic life created very different government involvement in the regulation and implementation of variety controls. Europe developed a system, based on public institutions, whereas the market parties largely remained responsible for the voluntary variety registration system in the USA.
Most developing countries followed the European example when they developed
their formal seed systems during the Green Revolution.
The model showed hard to implement during the first decades of their existence.
Current variety controls are under pressure of the structural adjustment of
the economy leading to a privatisation trend in the seed sector.
The present paper presents the objectives for variety control and the three main
functions: variety registration, performance testing, and release decisions. We then
discuss the limitations in the practical implementation, and current trends in restructuring
It seems inevitable that countries have some kind of variety registration system
that identifies varieties. There are various ways to making the performance testing
of varieties more efficient and less obstructive to seed industry development. Participation,
transparency and international cooperation are the keys.
Special regulations of the Federal Seed Act apply to seeds imported into the United States. Screenings of any seed are not permitted to be imported except for screenings of wheat, oats, rye, barley, buckwheat, field corn, sorghum, and certain other edible crops that are not imported for seeding purposes and are declared for cleaning, conditioning, or manufacturing purposes. Screenings of other kinds of seeds may not be imported.
Imported seeds that contain 100% or more of seeds of alfalfa, red clover, or both must be stained to indicate that such seed is of foreign origin. When• foreign-grown seed is mixed with domestically produced seed, each component must contain at least 10% stained seed.
If a seed lot contains any specified noxious weed seeds or more than 2% by weight of any weed seeds or less than 750% pure live seed (with certain exceptions), it is considered unfit and ineligible for import into the United States.
Collection of Damages
No damages may be collected through the seed laws even though a violation is established. Damage must be collected through separate action in a civil court.
Proof of Intent not Needed
Ori-inal seed laws were often ineffective because even when violations occurred the state had to prove intent to defraud, which was hard to do. After the 1956 amendment to the Federal Seed Act, violators could be penalized without proof of intent. or carelessness.
Coloration and Labeling of Treated Seed
A Federal Food and Drug rule requires that seed that has been treated with a chemical pesticide must be dyed a color that contrasts to the. seed. Usually red or green dyes are used. In addition, under federal and state seed laws the seed container must bear a statement that the seed has been treated, along with the commonly accepted chemical or abbreviated chemical name of the substance; if the chemical is harmful to humans or animals in the amount applied, a statement such as "Do not use for food or feed or oil purposes" must also be included on the tag, along with an antidote to be used if the chemical is taken internally. When mercurials or similarly toxic materials are used, the word "Poison" in red letters on a contrasting background and the outline of a skull and crossbones are required on the label.
Noxious Weed Seeds in interstate trade, it is a violation of the Federal Seed Act to ship seeds containing noxious wood seeds that are in excess of that allowed by the receiving state. Since each state seed law has established a list of prohibited and restricted noxious weeds (designated as primary and secondary noxious weeds in some states), the requirements vary among states. The sale of seed lots containing primary noxious weed seeds is prohibited. The sale of seed lots 0 containim, secondary noxious weed seeds is permitted, but the name and number (per ounce or pound) must be stated on the label. Some states limit the number of secondary noxious weed seeds that may be present per pound. Table 16.1 shows the classification of noxious weeds of Michigan of the importance of accurate identification of weed seeds, the ~ssociation of Official Seed Analysts (1993) has developed Handbook 25 on the Uniform Classification of Weed and Crop Seeds. This handbook was first published in 1952 and was subsequently revised in 1964, 1977, and 1993 because of continuing changes in scientific terminology. The purpose of the handbook is to (1) develop a better system of classifying contaminating species as other crop or weed seed, (2) provide a comprehensive listingand classification of over 2,000 species, (3) bring the scientific nomenclature of these species up to date, and (4) provide a comprehensive reference source to other scientific nomenclature systems. Handbook 23 is a valuable resource for standardizing the classification of noxious weed seeds found in a seed lot. Without this reference.
Keeping of Records
State and federal seed laws require that complete records for each lot of seed sold be maintained for varying lengths of time. Complete records refer to information relating to origin, treatment, germination, or purity of each lot of agricultural seed handled. The following information must also be maintained: declarations, labels, seed samples, records of purchases. sales. cleaning and bulking. handling, storage, analysis. and tests. Each person shipping seed in interstate commerce must retain a sample representing each lot of agricultural seed shipped. Federal regulations provide that any seed sample may be discarded one year after the entire lot represented by such sample has been sold.
THE ROLE OF INTERNATIONAL SEED ASSOCIATIONS IN INTERNATIONAL
The regulatory framework surrounding the seed industry is becoming more and
more complex and, from the early 1990s, international negotiations are shifting
from purely technical issues to more political ones. This evolution is particularly
linked to the development of biotechnology, and discussions on biological diversity and intellectual property protection. In that context, international seed associations have a key role to play to ensure that the industry point of view is well understood and taken into account.
In this article, we review the different global organizations and agreements having an impact on activities of the seed industry, including “new comers” such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Codex alimentarius. Then, we analyze the strategic role of international seed associations in developing consensus among their members, adopting common position papers, and defending these positions in international fora. We also discuss the work of international associations using concrete examples such as the on-going international initiatives on seed health testing, on adventitious presence of transgenic material in non-GM crops, and on the assessment of essential derivation.
POLICY RESPONSE TO TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS
Technological developments may require a policy response when the potential effects of such technology contribute to unwanted or unpredictable changes. The introduction of genetic modification triggered policy makers to design a framework for risk assessment and release procedures that may be linked to conventional variety release systems (Traynor & Komen, this volume). Often, technological change reaches the policy level only when problems appear after introduction. In some cases, however, discussions can start even before the technology is ready for the market. A good example of the latter is the Genetic Use Restriction Technology (GURT), which triggered a very intense debate because of its possible use in the production of ‘sterile seeds.’ This application was dubbed “terminator technology” in the popular press. GURT is thus an interesting case to analyse the link between technology and policy development. This paper heavily draws upon a study that was prepared by FAO (Visser et al., 2001).
This case illustrates that a wide range of concerns and options are linked with one technological development, and that arguments arise from different policy fields. Analysis thus needs a thorough understanding of the individual opportunities and concerns as well as the linked arguments.
GURT has received an extremely bad name in the international public debate.
Very few, however, have seriously thought about possible policy responses and the tools that are available to the policy makers to implement their decisions. This paper intends to clarify both the complexity of such technological developments and it gives some suggestions about dealing with different concerns in the GURT’s
POLICY MEASURES FOR STIMULATING INDIGENOUS SEED ENTERPRISES
Considering the limited success of the public sector in delivering seed to small
farmers in remote areas, and the lack of commercial interest on the part of large
seed companies, it seems that small and location-specific enterprises may be the
best option for fulfilling this role. However, the strategy in promoting such enterprises should differ from the usual ‘top-down’ measures characteristic of large
seed projects and companies because the conditions are different in terms of crops,
resources and potential profitability.
Small-scale enterprises require community-based interventions, since these businesses are meant to serve small farmers in rural areas. Attracting investment in
this form of seed supply, and creating sufficient interest in the community for the
seed the enterprises produce, are formidable challenges. They need a strong commitment on the part of governments in introducing favourable policies and providing adequate incentives that can encourage investment.
The enterprises should be allowed to evolve using the community as a basis.
Therefore, policy interventions should be consistent and provide adequate support
and protection for both the producers and the seed using customers. Pioneer enterprises should operate without external support, such as direct subsidies even
though subsidised services may be necessary to make the environment favourable.
Once competition has developed, the production and use of seed will then become
sustainable since forces within the farming community will drive both supply and
demand. Successful small enterprises may join forces in form of association as a
means of protecting their interests and serving as a forum for sharing experiences.
There is general agreement that a national seed regulatory regime should respond
to economic, political and technological factors specific to the particular country,
but there is considerable controversy regarding the direction of regulatory reform.
Regulation can be seen as a response to deficiencies in information. In the case of
seed regulation, the major concerns are ensuring that farmers have adequate information about the seed that they purchase and that society is protected from negative externalities. Although these aims are clear, the performance of seed regulation is often problematic in terms of efficiency, relevance and transparency. Any approach to regulatory reform must acknowledge that it will be the outcome of political compromise; assign responsibilities for the distinct elements of regulation (standards, monitoring and enforcement); and take full advantage of market mechanisms for transmitting information. which farmers use seed as an external input, the major part of agricultural land in the world is still sown with seed that is informally produced by farmers. Aiming for a formal seed sector that supplies 100% of the seed for planting is only realistic for a small number of crops and in few countries. The importance of farmers’ seed systems merits that closer attention be paid to farmers’ seed production and seed exchange at the policy level and in technical assistance projects. Linking formal and farmers’ seed systems and improving the latter may in many cases be a more effective strategy to improve national and local seed supply than aiming only at improving the infrastructure and investment climate for the formal (private and public) seed sector. In fact, analysis of strengths and weaknesses of both the farmer and formal seed system shows important complementarity in strength and weaknesses between the two systems, which offers multiple opportunities for improving the effectiveness of the both. Very few countries have included such an approach in their seed policies yet. This paper presents the importance of the farmers’seed systems from a variety of perspectives. We indicate ways for further integrationof the formal and farmers’ systems at various points in the seed chain/seed cycles and propose to include such strategies in national seed policies.
1. Kelly.A.F.,(1992),seed planning and policy for agricultural production, Bihaven press ( a division of printer publishers ),25 Floral street ,London WC29DS
2.Guarino, L., and E. Friis-Hansen. 1995. Collecting plant genetic resources and documenting associated indigenous knowledge in the field: a participatory approach. In Guarino et al., (ed.) Collecting plant genetic diversity: Technical guidelines. CAB International, Oxon, UK, p.345-366
3.Heisey, P.W., and J. P. Brennan. 1991. An analytical model of farmers’ demand for replacement seed. American Journal of Agricultural Economics. 73:1044-1052.