Seed Info No. 39
Zewdie Bishaw. (9/8/2010). Seed Info No. 39. Aleppo, Syria: International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA).
Seed Info aims to stimulate information exchange and regular communication among seed staff in the Central and West Asia and North Africa (CWANA) region. The purpose is to help strengthen national seed programs, and thus improve the supply of quality seed to farmers. The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) obliges member countries to protect plant varieties by patent, an ‘effective sui generis system’ or a combination of these. Several bilateral trade negotiations and export-oriented agribusinesses call for African countries to adopt the internationally harmonized plant breeders’ rights system under UPOV. These trade related pressures do not take into account the complex seed systems in developing countries and appear to bypass responsibilities of African nations to implement farmers’ rights. The merger of the different rights on genetic resources in the ‘Model Law on the Protection of the Rights of Local Communities, Farmers and Breeders, and for the Regulation of Access to Biological Resources’ of the then Organization of African Unity (OAU) has not led to national implementation in most of the continent. In the NEWS AND VIEWS section, Niels Louwaars from Wageningen University, The Netherlands, provides his views on ‘Reconciling UPOV and integrated seed systems’. There is also news from African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA), International Seed Federation (ISF), International Seed Trade Federation (ISTA) and International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). The AFSTA Annual Congress was held in Bamako, Mali, and provided a forum to promote seed trade within and outside Africa. The conference focused on seed trade and exhibitions, but the program also includes seed related technical presentations on several themes. Seed companies, service providers, regional and international institutions from Africa, Asia, Europe and USA, were all represented at the conference. The ISF Seed Congress was held in Calgary, Canada, and attended by more than 1200 people from 57 countries. The International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) in Cologne, Germany, was attended by over 350 participants from 56 countries. The section on SEED PROGRAMS includes news from Ethiopia, Morocco, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Turkey. The news from Ethiopia focuses on wheat variety releases and rapid seed multiplication by the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and partners. It highlights the progress made in identification, fast track release and popularization of stem rust resistant varieties, coupled with rapid seed multiplication under the USAID Famine Fund supported by ICARDA and CIMMYT. Similar activities are operational in Egypt and Pakistan. News from Pakistan discusses the new seed amendment bill, which aims to encourage broader private sector participation in agriculture. Also discussed are the latest developments in the seed industry and international obligations under the WTO regime. News from Iran, Morocco and Tajikistan cover the release of wheat, chickpea and lentil varieties, developed from germplasm provided by ICARDA through the international nurseries network; the role of the Mesopotamia Seed Company; and other issues. The RESEARCH section aims to capture information on adaptive research or issues relevant to seed program development in the region and beyond. This issue features an article entitled Forage seed production in Ethiopia by Jean Hanson and Abate Tedla from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The article describes how changes in land use, reduction in available grazing lands and increasing price of feed have led to feed shortages and the need for alternative feeds such as forages. This provides the opportunity for forage seed systems to develop, to meet the needs of small-scale livestock producers. Seed Info encourages the exchange of information in the national, regional, and global seed industry.