Asian Seed Congress 2017 Pre−Congress Workshop
“Climate Smart Seed Industry” was the theme of this year’s Pre−Congress Workshop. At the meeting on 13 November, leading experts discussed the latest trends and adaptation strategies for the seed industry.
Chairing the meeting was Dr. Marco Wopereis (Director General of the World Vegetable Center) with Mr. Charnyut Panutat (Acting Expert in Farmers and Farmer Oganization Develoment, Department of Agriculture Extension, Government of Thailand) serving as Co-Chair.
Dr. Wopereis opened the meeting with a presentation highlighting climate change challenges and opportunities for the expansion of vegetable cultivation. His talk centred on effects, both biotic and abiotic, and possible mitigation measures. He advised wider use of traditional vegetables to enhance resilience and also of genetic resources, particularly wild relatives, for crop improvement.
Adaptation measures should include preservation of agro biodiversity, both in situ and gene banks, as well as the use of appropriate agronomic practices like IPM and protected cultivation,
including precision farming.
The next speaker, Dr. Leo Sebastian (Regional Program Leader, CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture & Food Security Southeast Asia ), discussed what is needed to establish a responsive climate smart seed system to effectively operationalise climate smart agriculture. Dr. Sebastian mentioned that the agriculture sector has contributed mainly through greenhouse gas emissions and that there was a very real need to find measures to correct its impact.
He highlighted the climate vulnerability over the Asian region and climate hazard hotspots, and also introduced the concept of climate smart agriculture, which includes a greater focus on food security, adaptation, mitigation and production. He suggested the use of climate-change ready crops (for drought, salinity, submergence, heat, pest and disease resistance) and multiple trait varieties. In his opinion, early warning, preparedness, participatory climate risk mapping and adaptation planning is crucial. In addition, he advocated greater involvement of the private sector and support for smallholder agriculture.
Next, Dr. Arnab Gupta (Bioversity International) suggested the adoption of the right seed systems to combat the effects of climate change. In view of shrinking biodiversity, Dr. Gupta advocated greater use of both modern and traditional varieties. He promoted the concept of Community Seed Banks (CSBs) and explained in detail the types, functions, establishment steps and management processes for these CSBs. He also highlighted their usefulness based on case studies of success in Africa (Rwanda, Uganda) and Asia (India, Nepal, Sri Lanka).
Finally, Dr. Naruatai Wotasatit (Senior Expert, Thailand Department of Agriculture) discussed the “Thailand Department of Agriculture Strategic Plan of Action 2017–2021 for Climate Change”, focusing on technical means for the reduction of GHG emissions; Research & Development measures for plant production, including breeding for drought tolerance, specific cultural practices like water-use efficiency, aerated composting systems, agricultural engineering research, crop protection, seed production for food security (forage, legumes and rice) and seed for export (corn and vegetables); as well as technology transfers and supporting activities for government policy.
In the afternoon session, a roundtable discussion on “Climate Change & Seed Industry” was held, moderated by APSA Director of Technical Affairs Dr. Narendra Dadlani and representatives of four leading National Seed Associations acted as panelists: the Japan Seed Trade Association (Mr. Madoka Koshibe), the National Seed Association of India (Dr. P. Sateesh Kumar), the Philippine Seed Industry Association (Dr. Frisco Malabanan) and the Thai Seed Trade Association (Dr. Witsanu Attavanich). The panel discussed how climate change challenges affect the seed industry in terms of areas of plant breeding, seed production, seed quality and other areas such as GMO use.
The session was closed with a presentation from Co-Chair Mr. Charnyut Panutat, who summarised the day’s session and added several points about his own department’s efforts in mitigating climate change, including the Young Smart Farmers programme and the Thai Government’s policy to transfer seed production capacity from the public sector to the private sector.
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