By Em-Em Mandanas
The Philippine Seed Industry Association (PSIA) tackled the current challenges in the country’s agricultural trade during the association’s General Assembly, held on 7 July 2022 at the Bureau of the Plant Industry (BPI) Compound, Malate, Manila.
PSIA members, composed of 21 agribusinesses and three government agencies, participated in the midyear activity consisting of two parts, particularly the President’s Report and roundtable discussions to talk about updates at the organizational, national, and global levels.
PSIA President Mary Ann Sayoc reported on the organization’s structure and initiatives, ongoing and upcoming projects, and overall financial status. She also welcomed the six new members of the Association, namely Enviro Scope Synergy Inc., Enza Zaden, F.A. Greenseeds Corporation, Advanta Seeds, Rijk Zwaan, and Chia Tai.
PSIA Projects, Partnerships, and Policies
This year, one of PSIA’s major field activities is the Variety Awareness and Advocacy Action Project, aimed to showcase competitive varieties offered by the PSIA member companies. The first demo of agro-technology was showcased in Nueva Ecija on 10 March 2022, which was participated by 14 PSIA member companies. This August 2022, preparations will commence for the second Variety Awareness and Advocacy campaign in San Ildefonso, Bulacan.
Aside from technological demos in the field, the PSIA, through its Technology Development Committee, annually holds a series of webinars about modern farming practices and the technological advances in Philippine agriculture. Despite the limitations due to the Covid-19 pandemic, experts from various agricultural field were still able share their knowledge with various audiences via virtual meeting platforms.
Moreover, the PSIA will participate in the project, Fruit and Vegetable for Sustainable Healthy Diets (FRESH) of the World Vegetable Center and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, in particular, the module on safe and sustainable production systems. PSIA will facilitate discussions and field activities with the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI), farmer groups, and seed companies.
Two years from now, Filipino farmers, organizations, and government agencies in the agriculture sector will have access to the National Seed Technology Park in New Clark City, Pampanga, a facility that highlights advanced farming technology as the DA and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority have recently begun its construction. The PSIA, as an organization of agribusinesses with experts in seed technology, is one of the providers of technical assistance for the project.
The PSIA, as a policy coordinator for the Philippines seed sector, facilitated the discussions on the International Seed Movement Policy with the DA-BPI, International Seed Federation, and the Asia and Pacific Seed Association, especially in regard to challenges brought about by seed treatment requirements. It further discussed the policy provisions among the focal contacts of major seed companies in the country.
President Sayoc also reported on the PSIA’s financial status, as well as the upcoming activities of the Association, such as Agrilink 2022, Halamanan sa BPI, the Signing of the Memorandum of Agreement for Internship Program with the University of the Philippines Los Baños, and the National Seed Summit in November 2022.
The second and last part of the General Assembly is the roundtable discussions per committee, that tackled seed industry updates and challenges/issues and identified opportunities and action plans. The PSIA has six committees, namely: (1) Membership Development Committee; (2) Variety Awareness Committee; (3) Intellectual Property & Ethics Committee; (4) Quarantine and International Trade Committee; (5) Technology Development Committee; and (6) Communications and Social Media Committee.
With the country’s new administration, increasing commodity prices, and economic crisis, the Assembly comprehensively discussed internal and external issues that affect business operations and local distribution of seeds and farm inputs. They also laid out solutions to improve transactions and processing time, adapt to abrupt market trends and price hikes, streamline communication within and outside of the Association, increase the farmers’ and stakeholders’ awareness of various programs and technological offerings, and boost the PSIA’s media visibility across digital platforms.
Furthermore, the assembly also identified opportunities for growth for PSIA members, as well for PSIA as an organization, program facilitator, and policy coordinator among agribusinesses and government agencies.
Raffle draws of various prizes from member companies and PSIA interspersed with the discussions and reporting.
PSIA Executive Director Gabriel Romero, during his closing remarks, thanked all members that participated in the productive discussions. He further motivated the organization to become more aggressive despite the current challenges in the seed industry. “The continuing pandemic, the huge foreign debts, the skyrocketing fuel prices, the uncertainties that come with the new government, all the more should motivate us to aggressively offer our best seeds and farm inputs. Farmers’ livelihood and local production are paramount in these difficult times. Our quality seeds and inputs will help provide stability and tide our country over,” Dr. Romero stated.