Seed Info No. 48
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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 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 report on the regional seed courses organized by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and the activities of the FAO sub- Regional Office for Central Asia’s (FAO-SEC’s) project, Seed sector development in countries of the ECO. The FAO-Turkey Partnership Program (FTPP) and Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) jointly funded this project. The FAO-SEC project seeks to foster regional seed sector development of ECO member countries by developing a harmonized regulatory framework and regional seed policy. We also report on a regional seed policy workshop held 5–7 January 2015 in Istanbul, Turkey, and the Turkish Seed Trade and Fairs of 7–9 January 2015, organized by the Turkish Seed Association. In the NEWS AND VIEWS section, Niels Louwaars from the Dutch Seed Association, Plantum, presents an article entitled Plant breeding: open borders for private investments. The article highlights the important role of plant breeding in variety development and progress of the national seed industry. Crop improvement requires both genetic resources and knowledge to serve farmers with better varieties. These two determining factors are in the hands of both public sector and private sector breeders. Policy makers in some countries want to stimulate national plant breeding by putting severe limitations on foreign nationals investing in plant breeding, but this restricts the sharing of good varieties. Plant breeders know that such political views are not optimal for providing farmers with good varieties and seeds. It urges countries to have an open door policy for private sector plant breeding. This may ensure the flow of germplasm and facilitate farmers’ access to the latest technologies. It will also encourage the private sector and spur investment. Other news in this section comes from regional and/or international organizations, such as the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), ICARDA, and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). The section on SEED PROGRAMS includes news from Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan. There are also reports on the release of chickpea and lentil varieties by the Agricultural Research Institute of Afghanistan (ARIA) from the productive partnerships with ICARDA. It is expected that seed of these new high yielding and (a)biotic stress tolerant varieties will soon become available to farming communities at large. They will help to increase agricultural production and productivity and ensure food and nutritional security in the country. From Ethiopia, we report on the initiative addressing the value chain of durum wheat by the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and ICARDA. This USAID-funded seed project established another milestone by bringing together value chain actors to revive durum wheat production and connect farmers with markets in the fight against wheat rusts. 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 ‘Farmers’ knowledge and use of malt barley varieties and seed quality perceptions in southeastern Ethiopia’ by Karta Kaske, Astawus Esatu, and Abebe Atilaw, from the Ethiopian Agricultural Research Institute. The paper discusses farmer’s knowledge and use of malt barley varieties in southeastern Ethiopia. The study identified seed shortage as a major problem and recommended promotion of new varieties to boost malt barley production in the region. Seed Info encourages the exchange of information between the national, regional, and global seed industries.