HomeAgri NewsCape Town hosts largest seed conference in Southern Hemisphere

Cape Town hosts largest seed conference in Southern Hemisphere


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Altogether 1 265 representatives from 60 countries attended the 2023 World Seed Congress which was held from 5 to 7 June at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) in Cape Town. This makes it the largest seed congress in the Southern Hemisphere, said David Malan, chairperson of the national organising committee of this year’s congress.

Malan said the congress brings together seed role-players from all over the world, allowing them the opportunity to form relationships and new partnerships, exchange genetic material and develop new markets.

The World Seed Congress, which is jointly hosted by the International Seed Federation (ISF) and the South African National Seed Organization (SANSOR), focused on business and innovation, with trade exchanges, meetings, exhibitions, and on-site roundtables. The event also aims to drive key industry priorities through deeper engagement with the value chain as the congress theme, “Shared roots, greater heights indicates”.

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Best quality seed assessable to all

Marco van Leeuwen, president of the International Seed Federation (ISF), said in his opening message the IFS represents the global seed sector with 80 national member associations and 7 500 companies working worldwide. “The ISF envisages a world where the best quality seed is accessible to all and to achieve this, we need to create the best environment for the global movement of seed, and we need to promote the importance of plant breeding and innovation for global food security.”

“In Cape Town we will discuss objectives and strategies to get closer to this mission. We are also here to trade, move seed, move parental lines from a breeding station in Country A to a seed production company in Country B, to moved produced seed from Country B to a processing plant in County C and then deliver seeds to customers in other countries.”

A road full of potholes

He said the road to this vision and mission is really getting bumpy and full of potholes. Increasing protection, geo-political issues, labour scarcity and climate change are factors that fragment food production systems, and they largely influence ISF members’ research, breeding, production and trade.

“The answer to the alerting complex food crises is not just closing borders and relying on full self-sufficiency. The answer lies in international collaboration and stakeholder engagement leaving nobody behind”, Van Leeuwen said.

Dealing with 96% of the global seed trade, ISF and its partners should be vigilant. “We have to develop a better narrative, we have to plead for science and risk-based policies to foster innovation and international movement of seed, to develop varieties better suitable to adverse climate conditions, varieties that support consumer needs and sustainable agriculture.”

The ISF and its members need to anticipate and be prepared if we want to drive the dialogue in the right direction. If we want to create the best environment for the global movement of seed and make quality accessible to all, we need to improve our engagement with other role-players in the value chain and act, Van Leeuwen said.

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Huge opportunity for Africa

Malan said for South Africa, and Africa, the congress creates the opportunity for seed companies to meet the world on our shores and to discuss and access new material, form new relationships, and have the genetic material to distribute in the various regions in South Africa and Africa.

For the world, the congress is a huge opportunity. Africa is a growing continent. Africa will host more than 40% of the world’s population in 2100 and that creates opportunities for big companies which want to establish themselves in Africa, and it makes good sense for them to form relationships and partnerships with companies that are already established in Africa, Malan said. – Hugo Lochner, AgriOrbit

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