Seed fair in Maketo, near Zvishavane, Zimbabwe
Photo: © IFAD / Sarah Morgan


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Seed is the most important input for crop farmers the world over. But how the farmers get to their seed is just as diversified as the world’s cultures themselves. Practices range from the Nepalese self-supplier to sophisticated propagation systems in the industrialised nations. At the 19th “Tropentag” at the University of Bonn, Germany, numerous examples were demonstrated, and simple methods to ensure seed providing a greater yield were presented.

Good seed offers the basis for high-quality food and satisfactory yields. Urs Scheidegger of the University of Bern, Switzerland, demonstrated just how much significance is attributed to seed world-wide at the 19th “Tropentag”, describing transformations and differences among the developing and industrialised countries. In the South, between 60 and 100 per cent of farmers still use their own seed. For this purpose, they simply keep part of the harvest for the next season’s sowing. In the North, this amounts to 60 per cent at the most, and many farmers buy new seed each year.

This coincides with the increasing significance of seed quality checks. In sophisticated systems such as that of Germany, breeders test new varieties for several years before these are registered and allowed to enter the market. The checks concentrate on quality parameters such as germination capacity, seed being free of disease and undesirable contaminants, as well as safe genetics.

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