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National seed policy takes root

The government is preparing to formulate a National Seed Policy to ensure that farmers can obtain suitable and good quality seeds for the purposes of food security, nutrition, and overall improved living conditions.

Government officials from the agriculture and forestry sector and other relevant sectors, as well as entrepreneurs and agricultural producers, gathered in Vientiane last week to discuss the policy.

The workshop was chaired by Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr Phouangparisak Pravongviengkham, and FAO Representative to Laos, Dr Stephen Rudgard.

Developing countries including Laos have no suitable seed policy or principles to help the government in managing and allocating relevant roles to the sectors involved in agriculture, according to the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI). Some sectors have a poor understanding abou t the role of their work, Dr Phouangparisak said.

Without sound policies in place, it has been difficult for the government to provide farmers and businesses with access to suitable and quality seeds and to supply the needs of food producers, he added .

However, the last decade has seen development of the seed sector in some developing countries, he noted.

In 1980, the government assumed the main role in developing the seed sector, especially seed research, seed production, distribution and services.

After 1990, the governments of various countries opened up seed production for the private sector and entrepreneurs.

But in some countries government management of a formal seed system has not been successful and the private sector has not participated as expected.

In fact, the seed industry in most developing countries is unable to supply sufficient seed to farmers, so the informal seed sector has become an important seed supply source in enabling farmers to grow crops and ensure food security.

At present, economic growth and climate change are challenges for agriculture, and the governments of various countries including Laos are now placing more importance on seed production.

This sector still needs more cooperation and participation from relevant government organisations, the private sector, farmers and NGOs.

As part of this, understanding of the role of each sector in formulating the National Seed Policy as a means to bolstering seed sector development is essential.

The role of the government in formulating the National Seed Policy is to support the relevant sectors including the formal seed sector and informal seed sector, so that they jointly participate in formulating the policy.

The government will be the main agency for coordinating and rolling out seed development to ensure that farmers receive quality seeds.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has directed NAFRI to cooperate with FAO in implementing the National Seed Policy, which is one of 13 policies supported by the ministry to ensure food security and build food production on a commercial scale.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update September 19, 2017)

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