Seed World

ISF Seeks: Every Country and Every Crop in the Seed Industry

While there are vast differences in people’s cultures and way of life, there’s at least one constant: everyone needs to eat. Whether you’re from Kansas City, Mo. or Bangkok, Thailand, food is a critical part of everyone’s life.

That means agriculture is a universal occupation, and seed, where all food comes from, is critical globally.

ISF’s members represent this diversity of background while keeping the focus on one thing: sustaining innovation and movement of quality seed.

Hailing from Bangkok, Boonyanath Nathwong is president of THASTA, Thai Seed Trade Association, and a new member-observer of the International Seed Federation (ISF). The organization represents nearly 500 members including seed companies and producers.

“If you look at the statistics, Thailand is about 10 or 12 in terms of global export share,” Nathwong says. “We’ve had a reputation for a long time of high-quality production, and we want to keep it that way.”

The country started using pure corn and vegetable seeds about 15 years ago and THASTA is interested in providing its members with more information about technology in the seed industry.

Enter ISF, where member associations can engage in conversations that help inform members about breeding innovations, new seed treatments and other technology related to seeds.

“The key benefit we’ve seen from ISF is the knowledge and information database,” she adds. “Knowledge is fundamental for the sustainability of our industry because without knowledge, you cannot go further. It’s especially important in the context of climate change.”

Another new member of ISF, the Guatemalan Seed Growers Association (ASEG), represents the country’s research, breeding, production and seed marketing of horticultural, grain, floriculture and grass seed.

“We joined because we share the vision, mission, values and priorities of ISF,” says Waldemar Dell Campollo of ASEG. “It allows us to support our members to advance and promote the seed industry in Guatemala as a respected global leader of seed quality.”

Guatemala exports USD 1.2 billion in agricultural products annually, including red meats, poultry, eggs, vegetables, distilled spirits, wine and pet foods, according to USDA’s Global Agricultural Information Network. It’s a growing market according to the agency, underscoring the importance of access to high quality seed products.

Representing Crops of All Kinds

While in the U.S., corn and soybeans reign that’s not the case globally. Vegetables are more large-scale in European and Asian countries and many other crops make their way into global farm fields.

For ISF, this means representation of not only geography, but different crops are critical.

“We’re heavily involved in forage crops such as grasses, legumes, clovers, alfalfa and global leader in turf grasses for sports turf and private gardens,” says Truels Damsgaard, DLF CEO. “We are also a leader in sugar beet seeds and involved in vegetable seeds. Our geographic footprint is global.”

From grasses to herbs and spices, it’s important to involve members who represent all kinds of seed. For some, it highlights the need for understanding so companies will invest in breeding and other new products related to crop improvement.

“When we think about most crops, the challenges are similar and need support,” Damsgaard says. “There are of course specificities but it’s helpful when you can speak to other seed companies and colleagues and that’s what I’ve found helpful about being members of ISF. It’s important that we are able to support each other and focus on our shared interests and challenges.”

Have a Voice in Global Decisions

ISF acts as an advocate for the seed sector on a global perspective, providing information, resources and advocacy as needed. While companies compete and countries even compete for export value, the need for a stable seed supply remains top-of-mind for all.

“When it comes to global seed trade ISF might be more important today than ever before,” Damsgaard, one of the former ISF presidents, says. “There are new technologies becoming available all the time when it comes to plant breeding. Whether those technologies are approved or not in parts of the world play an important role in the seed business’s ability to deliver on its important role in agriculture.”