ASC’19 Opens with a Bang

26th November 2019 

ASC’19 Opens with a Bang 

By Isra Shahid – Project Assistant at Haji Sons

President of the Asia-Pacific Seed Association (APSA), Mr. Tahir Saleemi welcomed nearly 1500 delegates from all over the world to the colorful city of Kuala Lumpur

The 26th Asian Seed Congress was greeted with enthusiasm as the President of the Asia-Pacific Seed Association (APSA), Mr. Tahir Saleemi welcomed nearly 1500 delegates from all over the world to the colorful city of Kuala Lumpur by delivering his inaugural speech on the 25th of November, 2019. During the opening ceremony, Malaysian Federal minister of agriculture, Mr. Salahuddin Bin Ayub, also welcomed the delegates and invited them to invest in the Malaysian seed industry which is fully tax exempted with 100% foreign ownership.

Representatives from seed companies, alliances, as well as technical and experts from academia and science – all embraced each other’s presence on a global platform where each one’s goals and challenges are regarded as their own.

The highlight of the speech was the elaborate narrative on the challenges that are faced by the agricultural industry with special emphasis on the Global South.

Challenges like climate change, piracy and conflicting political views between countries were contextualized. Representing his own country, Pakistan, Mr. Saleemi took this important time and stage to shed light on some misplaced beliefs and actual problems facing the Pakistani seed industry. It was stressed, “High temperatures, untimely rains, and storms have caused    lodging of crops, empty sterile spikes of rice and maize crops, a shrunk grain of wheat, weak germinations otherwise and viruses on highly tolerant tomato varieties.” These problems translate into problems for the small farmers in the shape of a lower income and for consumers in the shape of higher prices.

In a state of emergency like this one, Mr. Saleemi noted that it is very convenient for the political arena of Pakistan to blame the seed-producing sector for these problems by calling their input being inadequate rather than addressing the cause of the problem: little effort to formulate policy to address climate change.

It was at this point that the president of APSA urged all representatives from the seed industry to come together to embrace the grace reality and put forth practical solutions that target this global phenomenon by which Global South is being badly affected. It is not just one country like Pakistan that will be able to solve the problems that plague its neighboring countries too; it is instead a matter to be addressed by all countries in the region and adapt flexibility with regard to their seed trade so land-locked regions like Afghanistan and Central Asia may be able to benefit from seed exchange and address food security concerns which are more likely to worsen if issues like climate change and piracy are not addressed.

Towards the end of the speech, Mr. Saleemi pointed to the main theme and focus for ASC’19 to be Plant Variety Protection, or PVP, which is the foundation of seed sector development which secures exclusive control of the plant breeder over their plant varieties – something that is not common knowledge to Global South.

In the coming four days that will be packed with technical sessions and discussions, many fruitful outcomes can be expected for addressing the problems Mr. Saleemi pointed out in his speech yesterday.