BANGKOK: Officers and managers from various public and private Thai laboratories today (July 18) met at Thailand’s Department of Agriculture (DOA) to explore potential areas of cooperation for capacity building in seed testing and sampling. (Scroll down for gallery)
Organized by the DOA and APSA, the meeting fueled efforts to improve the Thai seed industry through private and public collaboration initiatives, a key objective outlined in an MoU signed recently between the two organizations.
Presided over by DOA Deputy-Director General, Mr. Warawut Chootummatouch, the meeting brought together key representatives from numerous seed labs and seed quality control units administered under Thailand’s Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and the Ministry of Science and Technology – as well as several private labs of leading Thai seed firms, including Chia Tai Seeds, East West Seeds and Pacific Seeds.
Also attending the meeting was Dr. Masatoshi Sato, director of the Department of DUS Test and Seed Inspection, Japan’s National Center for Seeds and Seedlings (NCSS), and a member of the Seed Health Committee of the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA).
Dr. Sato introduced participants to the structure and work of NCSS — a division of the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) — and updated them on recent developments from ISTA, which held its Annual Meeting and ISTA Workshop last month in Hokkaido and Tsukuba city, Ibaraki, Japan, respectively.
Participants had the opportunity to openly gauge Dr. Sato on various procedures, protocol, standards and rules of ISTA.
Many Thai seed labs are in the process of upgrading their facilities and personnel to be in compliance with ISTA standards, which are based on the international laboratory standard of ISO 17025.
Though many public and private Thai seed labs prescribe ISO 17025 rules, at present there are only three ISTA-accredited seed labs in the kingdom – two operated by the private sector (East West Seeds and Chia Tai Seeds) and one public lab at the Phitsanuloke Seed Research and Development Center (PSRDC).
More on the PSRDC lab and ISTA accreditation will be featured in the upcoming edition of Asian Seed Magazine.
Pursuing Public-Private Partnership Potential
The meeting identified two priority areas for public private collaboration initiatives for APSA, the DOA and ISTA to consider moving forward.
The first one is organizing training courses for key lab personnel with respect to testing and sampling best practices and protocol. Though Thai government officers and seed company reps regularly attend ISTA training courses abroad, the benefits aren’t immediately realized across the entire industry. Therefore, it was proposed to invite ISTA experts to lead more courses in Thailand, and thus enable more Thai lab personnel to attend and thus benefit.
The second area identified was to streamline protocol and procedures for more seamless import of prohibited pests and live material, so as to better facilitate proficiency testing for seed health and seed physiology tests, important prerequisites in the certification process. Some participants voiced frustration with hurdles posed by strict protocol, and lack of clear protocol, at international quarantine checkpoints.
Mr. Warawat attentively noted all concerns and proposals and promised to prioritize them in department and ministerial level planning.
“Your suggestions are all in line with the Seed Hub policy and there’s nothing that can’t be done. As budgeting from the public sector may require more time, swifter progress can be realized through cooperation with the private sector, which we welcome,” he said.