Access to quality seeds a focus at global industry gathering
May. 31, 2017
Budapest, Hungary - Bert van der Feltz, CEO and President of vegetable seed company East-West Seed (EWS), expressed his support to the agenda set by the International Seed Federation (ISF) during the 2017 World Seed Congress, where the ISF called upon its members to take the lead in developing innovations that will help address global challenges such as food security.
Mr van der Feltz, along with EWS Vice President Michel Devarrewaere and General Manager for Philippines Mary Ann Sayoc, is in attendance from 22 May and 24 May at the yearly event which gathers more than 1,000 seed industry professionals from 64 countries worldwide.
In a statement on the opening day, the ISF stated the Congress’s mission is to enhance the quality and accessibility of seeds, with plant breeding innovation as a key priority.
“We support the ISF’s mission and priority areas as these align with our core values at East-West Seed,” Mr van der Feltz said. “We know firsthand that access to quality seeds is critical to improving farmers’ livelihoods and increasing their income, especially in developing countries where agriculture is the mainstay. On a broader level, it also improves access to nutritious food and contributes to socio-economic growth.”
Among the key issues discussed in WSC 2017 are plant breeding innovations (gene editing, new breeding techniques), intellectual property rights, genetic resources (Support to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture), and the international movement of seed (International Standard on Phytosanitary Measures; efforts to curb illegal seed practices).
High quality and accessibility
Mr van der Feltz added that the Congress had successfully brought together industry-leading peers to share knowledge and ideas.
“Working on developing solutions to accessible, quality vegetable seeds in the tropical world has been part of East-West Seed’s identity since the beginning. In 1982, our founder Simon Groot was determined to improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers by providing better seeds for better yields and, 35 years later, we still focus on that mission,” said Mr van der Feltz.
The company’s mission was recognized by the independently organized Access to Seeds Index where East-West Seed ranked #1 in 2 out of 3 indices published in February 2016.
Plant breeding innovations
Mr van der Feltz also praised the focus on plant breeding innovation as a critical means of addressing issues such as food security and better trade.
“We recognize the importance of plant breeding, not only through product enhancements but also by ensuring we upskill passionate plant breeders to take the seed industry to the next level."
“For example, one of our most recent initiatives in this area is our Advanced Plant Breeding Class II. This program aims to provide the next generation of breeders with the skills they need to lead and innovate from the front,” said Mr van der Feltz.
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