32nd ISTA Seed Congress-2019

32nd ISTA Congress was successfully organised in Hyderabad, Telangana State for the first time in Asia from June 26 to July 03, 2019. The Agriculture and Cooperation Department, Government of Telangana, Ministry of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Government of India and International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) have jointly organised this Seed Congress.

Inaugural Ceremony:

The ISTA Congress was officially inaugurated on June 26, 2019 by Shri Kailash Choudary, Honourable Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India in the presence of Shri Md. Mahamood Ali, Honourable Minister for Home, Prisons, and Fire Services, Government of Telangana, Shri S. Niranjan Reddy, Honourable Minister for Agriculture, Government of Telangana, Shri Sanjay Agarwal, IAS, Secretary (Agriculture), Government of India, Shri Ashwani Kumar, Joint Secretary (Seeds), GOI, Shri C. ParthaSarathi, APC &Prl. Secretary. Government of Telangana, Dr. Craig McGill, President of ISTA, Dr. Peter Carberry, Director General of ICRISAT, Dr. K. Keshavulu,Director and Managing Director, Telangana State Seed and Organic Certification Authority and Seeds Development Corporation, Hyderabad and Nodal Officer,32nd ISTA Congress and other officials from Government of Telangana.

ISTA Seed Symposium:

The inaugural ceremony was followed by the ISTA Seed Symposium with the theme "Seed technology and quality in a changing world", this was formally opened by the convenor of ISTA seed symposium Dr. Laura Bowden. The oral and poster presentation sessions were continued for three days (June 26 to June 28, 2019). Each session was chaired by a renowned scientist and oral sessions were presented by the lead speakers from different countries. For each session about 5-6 presenters delivered their talks on respective topics.

Technical Sessions:

The total number of presentations were 90, among them 35 oral and 55 poster presentations were made from different countries across the world. The deliberations were made on the several issues related to Seed production and quality under the theme "Seed Technology and Quality in a Changing World" in five different sessions.

Session-I:

Developments in viability and vigour testing:

This session was chaired by Dr. Wanda Waterworth, (UK) and he made a key presentation on safeguarding genome integrity in germination and seed longevity. He discussed various genomic aspects of seed germination and longevity and also preservation of genetic resources in seed banks. Thereafter presentations were made by different speakers on various issues of seed viability and vigour like, Quantifying seed vigour - a mathematical - statistical approach; New technology for estimation of germination of cereal seeds; An early count of radicle emergence and measurement of the leakage of electrolytes predict the percentage of normal seedlings; Understanding the mechanism of differential seed vigour status and field establishment in sweet, dent, flint, waxy, QPM and popcorn genotypes under sub-optimum temperatures and its improvement through seed enhancement treatments; Development of seed vigor test using single count of radicle emergence in chili (Capsicum annuum L.) seeds and Multispectral imaging in sugar beet seed to determine germination.

Session-II :

Ensuring seed quality for future generations:

This session was lead by Dr. Kingsley Dixon, Curtin University, Australia. He made key presentation on "Setting standards for native seed in ecological restoration".The presentation was focused on increase in ecological restoration in response to widespread loss of ecosystems and land degradations and also covered issues associated with native seed collection, storage and deployment in comparison to crop species. This was followed by other scientists who have presented on the topics like Global Information System for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture; First ever seed standards of Lasiurus sindicus for quality assurance; The seed semi-permeable layer and its rela_on to seed quality assessment in grass species; The effect of a hot-drying treatment on the genetic dissection for seed longevity in rice; Quality seed production in cucumber (Cucumis sativus) cv. PusaBarkha; and New approaches to provide a rapid assessment of germination in seeds of native species.

Session-III :

Ensuring seed health and implications of change for seed pathology:

This session was chaired by Ron Walcott, University of Georgia, USA and made key note presentation on “How a basic understanding of watermelon seed infection by Acidovoraxcitrulli has improved seed health testing. The presentation focused on molecular tools in seed health testing. The other presentations in this session are; Low-pressure plasma seed treatment as a substitute for chemical seed treatment in case of common bunt (Tilletia caries), Seed transmission of soybean yellow mottle mosaic virus in natural and experimental hosts; Pinus patula in South Africa: effect of seed-borne mycoflora on germination, their control and first report of Sydowiapolyspora; Development of tools for the detection and viability testing of stem nematode, Ditylenchus dipsaci, on alfalfa seeds (Medicago sativa L.) and methods to evaluate seed health of treated seeds.

Session-IV :

Seed production in a changing environment:

This session was lead by Dr.R. S. Paroda. He made key presentation on “the changing face of the Indian seed sector: challenges and opportunities" He emphasised the importance of improved seed in increasing crop productivity and presented the evolution of Indian Seed Industry, challenges and opportunities a head. The topics in this session ranged from germination and seedling growth related to temperature seed production in a changing climate; Impact of environmental conditions during seed development in seed vigour and quality; Novel breeding methods and innovations in seed production for delivering quality seed and changing climates.

Session-V :

New technology and novel methods for seed quality assessment:

This session was chaired by Dr. Ulrich Schurr, Forschung szentrum Jülich, Germany. She presented on plant phenotyping – opportunities, challenges and integrated approaches for seed phenotyping, novel sensors, automation and robotics, data management and analysis. The presentations in the session covered different aspects like computer vision, image analysis, multispectral imaging, DNA barcoding, next generation sequencing (NGS) technology, image recognition technology and chlorophyll fluorescence as an indicator of quality and longevity.

Closing Ceremony:

On the closing day of the seed symposium, his Excellency the Governor of Telangana State, Shri ESL. Narasimhan highlighted the need to feed the growing global population and the role of quality seed in agriculture. He also mentioned about the need for seed revolution in line with other agriculture revolutions that took place in India. His Excellency very skilfully summed up what ISTA does and how important it is to ensure access to quality seed. He mentioned that ISTA is not just about ensuring uniformity in seed testing with standardised methods to assure supply of quality seeds but in doing that it is providing happiness to farmers’ life and off course for all across the worldwide. He also highlighted that Hyderabad as the city of pearls, centre of agriculture, seed hub and source of happiness has a special role to play in Indian seed sector as well as in global seed market.

Election of Dr. Keshavulu as Vice-President ISTA:

The General Ordinary Meeting was followed by the election for the new Governing Board of ISTA for the year 2019-22 as per the constitution of ISTA. Wherein, the government representatives from different countries across the world have exercised their voting franchise

It is fortunate that, Dr. K. Keshavulu, Director and Managing Director, Telangana State Seed and Organic Certification Authority and Seeds Development Corporation, Hyderabad has been elected as Vice-President of ISTA for the year 2019 -22 and the Presidentship of ISTA as for the year 2022 – 25 per the norms of ISTA. It is a matter of honour and pride for India that, Dr. K. Keshavulu is the first ever person from Asian Continent to become the Vice-President/President of the prestigious International body on Seed Testing in its 95 years of History.

Events organised in connection with 32nd ISTA Congress-2019
  1. Workshop on “Seed production, Quality Control & Marketing’’ under South-South Cooperation of FAO & Government of Telangana (June 24-25, 2019):

    Forty seven (47) participants from twenty six (26) countries of Africa and Southeast Asia and 68 participants from India including seed policy makers, government officials, scientists, seed analysts, technologists, small and medium seed enterprises (SMEs) and seed industry personnel were attended the workshop.

    The workshop provided a good platform and opportunity to enhance the expertise and capacity of participants on the areas related to seed production, testing, certification and marketing that would help to promote growth and development of small and medium seed enterprises of developing countries. The workshop also helped to establish professional relationships and exchange of expertise among the participants and international seed experts.The following recommendations were emerged from the workshop.

    1. FAO has to play a facilitator role in replicating the progress of Telangana seed sector in other FAO member countries of southern hemisphere to ensure access to quality seeds of well adopted varieties
    2. Government of Telangana need to have continued conversation with FAO to have greater collaborations in future for seed sector development and to promote seed exports
    3. Need to have harmonised seed regulatory frameworks / protocols at inter-regional level rather than within the region or block level
    4. Harmonisation of seed certification, quality standards and varietal testing procedures in line with the concept of Seeds without Borders
    5. Promotion of World Seed Partnership as a single platform to address all the issues related to seed quality and trade
    6. Development of seed infrastructure, research and production expertise in African countries through the possible collaborations / partnership with local seed companies
    7. Harmonisation of plant quarantine and phytosanitary regulations in the countries with similar agro-climatic conditions
    8. Promotion of regional / national seed associations’ participation in seed policy formulations and collaborations to foster public and private partnership in seed sector growth
    9. Formation of Indo-African platform for seed sector development by involving high level policy makers from India and Africa under South – South cooperation of FAO for exchange of knowledge, ideas and technologies.
  2. International Seed Exhibition (June 26 – 28, 2019):

    International Seed Exhibition was held for three days in conjunction with ISTA seed symposium. Wherein, 65 stalls from both public and private seed companies involved in seed production, processing, biotechnology, seed testing laboratories and related organisations across the world were participated.

    The exhibition provided a platform to showcase the state-of–art-facilities for Seed production, Processing, Testing, Biotechnology, Advanced seed treatment technologies, Farm mechanization, marketing network, global interaction and about 1600 seed farmers were exposed to these advance state-of-art facilities that in turn helps in effective transfer of technologies to the farmers field.

  3. Seed Farmers Meeting (June 27, 2019):

    The meeting was inaugurated by Shri Pocharam Srinivasa Reddy, Hon’ble Speaker of Telangana State Legislative Assembly in the presence Shri S. Niranjan Reddy, Honourable Minister for Agriculture, Government of Telangana and Shri N. Shivashankar Reddy, Honourable Minister for Agriculture, Government of Karnataka and other officials from Government of Telangana.

    About 1600 seed farmers from all the districts across the Telangana State and 100 seed farmers from neighbouring States like AP & Karnataka were attended the meeting. In the meeting, various issues related to quality seed production and management of seed quality at various levels of seed production were covered.

    The knowledge, skills and competence acquired by the seed farmers would help to improve the quality seed production and supply system in the country.

  4. Interaction meeting between ISTA and Indian Seed Industry (June 27, 2019):

    Interaction meeting between ISTA and Indian seed industry was organised by involving stakeholders from both public and private Seed Industry and ISTA officials. Wherein, various issues like inclusion of Indian crops species which are not included in ISTA rule, accreditation of laboratories, ISTA members fees reductions, capacity building programmes by ISTA etc. were discussed.

  5. ISTA Workshop on “Seed Morphology and Seed Identification for Purity and OSD Test” (June 22 – 24, 2019):

    25 participants from 13 countries- Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, China, India, Japan, Kenya, South Korea, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Thailand and Uganda have participated in the workshop.The workshop provided knowledge about seed identification in a range of species of weeds at both the theoretical and practical level.

  6. ISTA Workshop on “Seed Sampling, Purity, Germination and Moisture” (July 05 -12, 2019):

    Workshop included lectures, practical exercises and group works. The aim of the workshop was to provide an overview of seed sampling, purity, germination analysis as well as testing of seed moisture content of a range of species. Twenty-three (23) participants from 7 countries – Bangladesh (3), Ethiopia (2), India (8), Iraq (5), Malaysia (1), Philippines (1), Tanzania (2), and Uganda (2) – attended the workshop. They were from governmental seed testing stations and the seed industry.

    The workshop improved the competency of participants with respect to seed sampling, purity, germination and moisture analysis and also provided a forum interaction and discussion.

The following are possible benefits from the 32nd ISTA Congress;

  1. Harmonisation of seed regulations: Variations in seed regulatory frameworks are major hurdles for seed exports/imports as the regulations for variety release, seed certification, and phyto-sanitary control varies with the countries/ regions and results in delays the introduction of new varieties in overseas market. There is a need to have harmonised seed regulatory frameworks / protocols within or among the regions like SAARC countries, Asia-Pacific etc. Harmonisation of seed certification, quality standards and varietal testing procedures in line with the concept of Seeds without Borders will boost the seed movement across the countries.

  2. Phytosanitary certification system: Need to strengthen phytosanitary certification system in the country in accordance with the international standards to boost seed exports especially vegetable seeds exports as few countries like Japan, South Korea, etc. will not accept our seeds without phytosanitary certificate.

  3. Strict quality control: In our system there is no control over production of labelled seeds at field level, though this accounts for >50% of seeds marketed. Provisions exist only for market sample check in SCO, 1983. and no official data is available on production and sale labelled seeds, especially for vegetable seeds. Under such situation traceability becomes difficult, so application of IT skills such bar code or QR codes to ensure traceability. Improvement of certification & quality monitoring system for seeds (i.e. post control of seed identity-quality-purity, application of IT system for information management, GPS, imaging and tracking systems). Molecular marker-based tests need to be applied for hybridity /genetic purity testing. At least one STL per state need to be upgraded for such purpose.

  4. Online seed data base: In our country, there is no data base regarding production, availability and supply of seeds. Need to have online seed data base. This helps in proper planning of seed production well in advance.

  5. Uniformity in seed certification procedures: The seed certification procedures within the country are not uniform even though basic principle remains same. The uniform procedures across the country can lead to a drastic improvement in the functioning of SCAs and reduction in the time lag.

  6. Strengthening of public sector seed organisations: In the initial years of public seed organisations like NSC and SSCs did tremendous job in production and supply quality seeds to the farmers. They used to dominate the seed market. But now their functioning is not up to the level and their presence in the seed market is very limited and most of the market share was taken by the private sector and mostly dependant on tendering and procurement from the private sectors. So, there is need to draft the policies for strengthening of Seed Corporations.

  7. Promotion of seed exports through the OECD seed schemes: Creation of awareness among the stakeholders, establishment of seed export promotion council, capacity building of the staff engaged with OECD seed certification by international experts.

  8. Promotion of Seed Technology Research: Unfortunately, the research in seed science discipline in our country remained conventional and no focus on advance studies. Hence, focus should be on need based research or industry driven research and also on application of new technologies like nanotechnology, sensor polymer coating technology, advanced methods for seed quality evaluation and molecular level studies to understand and harness the potential benefits of seed.

  9. Strengthening of Seed Quality Testing: Seed Testing Laboratory (STL) is the hub of seed quality control activities. To carry out all these responsibilities effectively, it is necessary that STLs across the country are to be maintained with good infrastructural facilities as per the ISTA guidelines and standards. Hence, at least one STL in each State should be developed as a model lab to specialize in advanced testing methods apart from routine seed test.

  10. Uniformity in Seed Testing: The vision is to have uniformity in seed testing across the across the country. To achieve this, there is a need to work closely with all state laboratories across the country both in public and private and need to assist in adoption of ISTA rules.

  11. Capacity building programmes: Seed quality assurance is a systematic and planned procedure for ensuring the genetic, physical and physiological integrity of the seed delivered to farmers and trained stewardship is required in quality assessment. Further, ISTA is being evaluating the new technologies for determination of seed quality and need to gear up our capabilities in validation and use of these technologies to improve quality seed supply and international seed trade. Thus, there is a need to have capacity building activities on seed quality aspects to update the knowledge, skills and understanding of the recent advances in seed production, testing and seed science research that in turn leads to improvement in the seed production and quality seed supply system in the country.

  12. Technical audit system for STLs: STLs functioning in the country have to be audited by the experts with respect to seed testing procedures as per ISTA procedure to improve the infrastructure facilities and human resources. It should be done annually and need to be discussed at the national level every year.

  13. Establishment of State of Art Laboratories: Identification and upgradation of at least one STL in each state to specialize in the genetic purity testing using electrophoresis and DNA techniques besides routine seed testing. The laboratories so identified should be superior to other routine STLs in the country with qualified personnel for the position of seed analysts or testing staff without compromising infrastructural facilities.

  14. ISTA Accreditation: In the country, only six laboratories have been accredited to ISTA. There is need to improve our competence in assessing seed quality testing through ISTA accreditations. In this regard, efforts shall be made to obtain the ISTA membership and accreditation for at least 3-4 STLs in each State as India is hosting more than 500 seed companies and capable of exporting seeds to different countries. The accredited laboratories can act as referral laboratories to help in seed exports and also to encourage the OECD seed certification in the respective States.

  15. Seed traceability through modern technologies: Traceability has become a major issue in seed supply system in our country as more than 60 % seed is sold as labelled seed and some fly-by night operators and unscrupulous seed companies have beenpumping spurious seeds into the market under the provision of truthful labelling. Hence, there is a need to have IT based seed traceability system through barcode system and ID cards system for organisers / seed farmers to ensure traceability and to curb the sale of spurious seed.

  16. Support for Seed Bowl Initiatives of Telangana: Telangana State is a major stakeholder in the Indian Seed Industry and producing about 60 to 65 lakhs quintals of seeds annuallythereby catering to about 60 % of the seed requirement in the country. The Telangana State has conducive weather conditions for quality seed production and several national and international agriculture research institutes, agriculture university, seeds corporation, seed certification agency and more than 400 seed companies are located in the State. Hence, there is a need to support Telangana State technically and financially to realize the vision of Global Seed Hub.

  17. Creation of separate office in India to coordinate ISTA activities: There is a needto establish separate office for ISTA in India to provide a platform for global interaction, to coordinate the ISTA activities, correspondence related to policies, conferences, executive meetings and global networking with international seed organisations. This is also act as skills and knowledge development centre for both public and private seed industry personnel on the recent advances in seed production, testing and seed science research, that in turn leads to improvement in the seed production and quality seed supply system.