Production costs for crop seed companies dealing in the Chinese market are poised to rise significantly as a result of a new regulation mandating that unique QR codes be added to labels on every single packet.
Published by the Ministry of Agriculture on 18 September, last year, and enforced as of 1 January 2017, the “QR Code Rules for Crop Seed Labels” is part of an administrative measure by the Chinese Government to improve traceability of all crop seeds and eradicate their illegal trade in accordance with the Seed Act.
APSA Immediate Past President and GM of Celestial Seeds, Wang Zhiping, who is part of a working committee advising and assisting companies in the implementation of the new regulation, summarized the requirements.
“The QR codes for crop seed labels should be unique. One QR code should correspond to one minimum sale unit or packet”, he said. “Once a QR code is used for one seed packet, it can’t be used again”.
While the MoA has not specified any grace period or penalties for companies who fail to comply, according to Section 9 of the Seed Act, violating label requirements may incur fines of between RMB2,000 ($289) and 20,000 ($2,894) per instance.
Moreover, goods deemed as “fake” or “illegal” may be subject to seizure and confiscation.
Ms. Wu Xiaoling, Deputy Director of the Department of Seed Management, MOA, explained that the onus of generating, printing and managing the QR codes is entirely on seed companies.
“Companies must design and generate the QR codes and corresponding tracking URLs in accordance with the guidelines (see here for full list in English or in Chinese, page 50-51 of this govt document). Government agricultural departments and seed management institutes won’t designate or entrust any person or company to design software, QR codes or tracking URLs”, she affirmed.
Ms. Wu went on to explain that QR codes can be printed and produced in various ways using existing software and services, whether paid or free, and can be done by a packet printing company or by seed producers themselves, who are permitted to affix the printed code to a seed label after the label is printed.
However, she was adamant that companies need to ensure that each QR code…
STAY TUNED for the full article, including the anticipated production cost increases, all which will be featured in Asian Seed, Volume 23, Issue 1 – out in print and online by end of February.