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If the most appropriate way of obtaining seed is to buy from a supplier, then care must be taken to use a reliable one and to understand the marketing procedures to be followed. A knowledge of these procedures applies equally to whether you are either buying or selling material, and so these activities are considered together here.

Seed suppliers - there are many commercial firms and other institutions that can provide seed. It is important to use ones that are reliable, providing material of the correct physical and genetic quality, supported by appropriate documentation. You may need to go by the experience of other users to ensure you use a good supplier. Commercial suppliers, like any other company, tend to go in and out of business - but there are many who are are long-standing and have built up a good reputation. Several research or development institutions can supply material of high quality, but usually in small quantities.

See FINDING OUT MORE - SEED SUPPLIER DIRECTORIES to find out where to get names and addresses of seed suppliers.

Documentation - all reproductive material, especially that moving in international trade, should be accompanied by certificates of genetic quality (confirming the species and geographic source, at a minimum), and physical quality (such as number of seed per kilogram, purity, germination percentage etc.). Such certificates can be issued by the supplier alone, or under a nationally or internationally recognised certification scheme. Phytosanitary certificates will be obligatory to ensure that pests and disease are not introduced with the material. A further document - a material transfer agreement - may need to be issued which protects the rights of the original providers or guardians of the reproductive material, as well as access and sharing of future benefits.

See REGULATING AND APPLYING STANDARDS on the current agreements, legislation and certification schemes etc

Catalogues and prices - suppliers can provide these either in hardcopy or on the internet. Make sure the data provided is adequate to make a choice, and do not try to economise on costs. Cost of seed or other material is not great when compared to the overall cost of regenerating trees and forests, and it is a false economy to buy cheap seed. On the other hand, this does not justify charging unnecessarily high prices for material that you may sell.

Payment procedures - there are different ways in which seed can be paid for, from straightforward cheques to the issue of banker's drafts. Make sure you are know the procedures to follow.

Packaging and transport - reproductive material that is transported may be in transit for a long time and subject to conditions that are very adverse for maintaining viability. It is therefore important to ensure that packaging is adequate, that carriers are aware of the nature of the material, and that the recipient is notified of dispatch and arrival so that collection can be arranged as quickly as possible. Otherwise, useless, dead and mouldy material may be the result!

See FINDING OUT MORE - SELECTED REFERENCES - GENERAL for sources of further information.

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