Director-General  QU Dongyu

Access to quality seeds is critical for food security and nutrition

08/12/2022

Rome - FAO Director-General QU Dongyu today called for concrete efforts to produce quality seeds, without which producing nutritious and climate-resilient crops to feed the world’s growing population will be impossible.

The Director-General was speaking at the first Roundtable Forum on Sustainable Seed Systems Management event held virtually.

“The seed industry has played and will continue to play an important role in the co-creation of solutions together with farmers. But government policies must also be in place to strengthen the seed value chain and to create an enabling environment where everyone benefits,” the FAO Director-General said.

Michael Keller, Secretary General of the International Seed Federation, Ian Barker, Senior Director of Strategy, Delivery and Scaling in Genetic Innovation of the CGIAR) and Csaba Gaspar, Programme Manager, OECD Forest Seed and Plant Schemes & OECD Schemes for the Varietal Certification of Seed, were keynote speakers at the event.

Food production will need to increase by 50 percent to feed the world’s population which, by 2050, will reach 9.7 billion, Qu said. “Better Production is fundamental to addressing these challenges. Better production starts from better seeds. We cannot have good crops if we do not have quality seeds,” he added.

Today’s roundtable forum is a dialogue platform that builds upon the FAO Global Conference on Green Development of Seed Industries (Global Seed Conference), held November 2021. At the conference, FAO members, partners, farmers, industry and opinion leaders, and other stakeholders deliberated on ways to make quality seeds of improved, well-adapted, productive, nutritious and resilient crop varieties available to farmers in a timely manner, especially in food insecure parts of the world that constitute the major focus of FAO’s interventions. The proceedings of the Global Seed Conference, including 10 recommendations, is a legacy output of the event and was formally presented to stakeholders at the roundtable forum.

The productivity of crops improves when farmers transition to the cultivation of improved varieties. Yet, in many food-insecure parts of the world where pervasive hunger and malnutrition have been exacerbated by climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the rates at which farmers adopt improved crop varieties and use quality seeds and planting materials are very low.

The roundtable forum aims to change this by getting all stakeholders concerned to look for concrete ways in which to implement the 10 recommendations developed from the Global Seed Conference. These include adopting innovations that harness appropriate scientific and technological advancements, strengthening institutional and human capacities, safeguarding crop genetic resources, including in their natural habitats, breeding a diverse portfolio of well-adapted, progressively superior crop varieties, and developing capacities along the seed value chain.

“We need to move from planning to implementation, for real change and impact. We need to keep the conversation going on seed systems and on how to make them more sustainable,” the Director-General said. 

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