Seed Info No. 38
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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. From its modest beginnings in the mid 19th century, the seed industry has been revolutionized by hybrid seed technology. The introduction of hybrid maize in the 1930s in the USA led to the development of a strong private-sector seed industry. Hybrids provide higher yields and greater product uniformity. To producers, they offer assured demand for seed; to breeders, an in-built ‘protection’ mechanism. In the NEWS AND VIEWS section, Ritesh Mishra from the Indian seed company Mahyco, describes the potential of hybrids for increasing wheat production in India. He discusses the opportunities for developing hybrid wheat for all wheat-growing areas in India, and particularly for semi-arid regions where farmers often do not have access to irrigation. Drought-tolerant, fertilizer-efficient and herbicide-tolerant hybrid wheat varieties are expected to hit the Indian market in the next 5 to 10 years. Other news stories include the ECOSA International Seed Conference in Turkey and the Second World Seed Congress in Italy. The ECOSA conference focused on seed trade and exhibitions by the private sector, but also included technical presentations on various subjects: status of the regional and global seed industry; international instruments for seed trade and their relevance to the ECO region; regional collaboration to facilitate seed trade; and the status and role of the private sector in the ECO region. The conference participants included representatives of seed companies, service providers, and regional and international institutions from Africa, Asia, Europe and USA. The Second World Seed Conference, held in Rome, was organized jointly by FAO, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), the International Seed Federation (ISF), and the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA). The conference issued a press release calling for greater public and private sector investment in agriculture to ensure food security for a growing population. The section on SEED PROGRAMS includes news from Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Morocco and Pakistan. Egypt has established post-graduate degree programs in seed science and technology. Four Egyptian universities (El-Minia, Mansoura, Alexandria, Ain-Shams) have launched a new Masters program in seed science in partnership with the Universities of Copenhagen (Denmark) and Cieskowski (Poland). News from Iraq describes the role of the Mesopotamia Seed Company. A contribution from Libya covers the role of the seed society in seed production and delivery. The RESEARCH section aims to capture information on adaptive research or issues relevant to seed program development. This issue features an article by Tesfaye Tadesse and Mihiretu Chernet from the Awassa Agricultural Research Center in Ethiopia. It describes participatory variety selection methods that are being successfully used to introduce new potato varieties in the absence of the formal seed sector operations. Seed Info encourages the exchange of information on the national, regional, and global seed industry.