Seed Info No. 44
Zewdie Bishaw. (3/4/2013). Seed Info No. 44. Beirut, Lebanon: 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 and beyond. Its purpose is to help strengthen national seed programs and thus improve the supply of high quality seed to farmers. The WANA Seed Network provides information on activities relating to global and/or regional cooperation and collaboration to facilitate the development of a vibrant regional seed industry. In this issue of Seed Info, we highlight the 4th Seed Trade Conference of the Economic Cooperation Organization’s Regional Seed Association (ECOSA) held from 11 to 13 January 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey. We also continue to report on seed courses conducted by the Seed Section of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA). From the outset, to meet the increasing and diverse needs of national seed programs, the Seed Section has adopted a ‘train-the-trainers’ approach. In so doing, primary courses held at ICARDA headquarters lead to follow-up courses organized in country by national seed programs. The Seed Section therefore continues to strengthen human resource development within the region. In the NEWS AND VIEWS section, Niels Louwaars from the Dutch Seed Association, Plantum, presents an article entitled Developments in Patenting of Plants in Europe. The article highlights contemporary views from Europe on plant breeders’ rights and the patent system. Plant breeders’ rights have effectively supported breeders and protected plant varieties from being illegally reproduced. These rights give breeders a fair chance to capture some financial return to further invest in breeding, while keeping the varieties open for use in further breeding by others. With the development of plant biotechnology, the patent system entered the sphere of plant breeding, initially in the USA and then 14 years ago in Europe. The patent system provides a much stronger right to the holder since plant breeders’ rights have exemptions for farmers (the right to re-use seed under certain conditions and limitations) and for breeders (the right to freely use protected varieties for further breeding). However, the EU experience shows that the patent system is not set in stone. With some creativity, based on solid policy objectives, openings can be made within the law to limit the negative effects of the patent system on plant breeders and seed business. Other news in this section comes from regional and/or international organizations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA), the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The section on SEED PROGRAMS includes news from Egypt, Ethiopia, Lebanon and India. The report covers a biosafety workshop organized by the Egyptian Biotechnology Information Center and Egypt’s Ministry of Environment, and the Ethiopian launch of the Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) project by the Centre for Development Innovation, Wageningen UR. The news from Lebanon is the recent revival of cereal seed production, an undertaking of the country’s Ministry of Agriculture. In October 2012, the ministry announced the availability of more than 4000 tonnes of certified wheat seed and 600 tonnes of certified barley seed for distribution to farmers at competitive prices. The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas provided technical training and 15 tonnes of foundation seed, comprising 13 varieties of wheat, barley, chickpea and lentil. The RESEARCH section of Seed Info captures information on adaptive research or issues relevant to developing seed programs in the CWANA region and beyond. This issue features an article entitled Participatory Varietal Selection of Malt Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) in Ethiopia by Yetsedaw Aynewa et al. from the Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia. This paper discusses participatory variety selection for yield and yield components in northwestern Ethiopia. Seed Info encourages the exchange of information between the national, regional, and global seed industries.