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Need of Improved
Agriculture is still the major occupation of the people of
many countries, especially of developing ones. However, there is an
insufficient agricultural production in these countries mainly due to the retention
of age-old practices.
Increasing agricultural production relies largely on improved
seeds and their availability. The use of improved seeds has boosted the
production of some crops in some countries.
For example, according to a previous data, in Egypt, the use of quality
seeds has augmented the production of some crops by 30 to 40 percent.
Since its inception in 1945, the Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) has emphasized on the use of improved seeds for farming. Today, it has
been proved that the key to rapid increase in crop production and productivity
is through the production and use of improved sees.
While some countries have good investment programs, others
have been assisted by the international agricultural research centers. Still
others have developed programs for evaluating different varieties of crops.
In the early fifties, FAO introduced the Hybrid Maize project
in European and Mediterranean countries. At the same time, it implemented the
maize certification scheme for Europe and the Mediterranean region. This scheme
helped in increasing average maize yield by 80 percent in less than a decade.
In response to requests from its member nations, FAO
implemented the Seed Improvement and Development Program (SIDP) in the
mid-seventies. Several countries and international organizations have assisted
The main objectives of SIDP are to assist developing
countries and to establish and operate improved seed programs apart from
mobilizing multilateral and bilateral resources for this purpose.
After the inception of SIDP, several seed projects with
millions of US dollars were operated in several countries. Many persons were
trained in various seed technology activities. Several textbooks, technical
guidelines, information materials and video films were issued in Arabic,
Chinese, English, French and Spanish languages.
SIDP also introduced a Computerized Seed Information System
(SIS) with subsystem on the national seed activities of selected countries, the
crop varieties of different species in some countries and institutions involved
in seed exchange. Other systems contained thousands of addresses of seed
institutions in some countries and the production of seed equipment by some
major producers worldwide. Also, a subsystem on plant genetic resource was
In 1957, the FAO started the world seed campaign in which 79
countries and territories participated. This campaign, which culminated in
1961, made farming communities and the general public more aware of the
contribution that improved seeds can make to agricultural development. The
establishment of the International Agricultural Research Centers can be
considered as an outcome of this campaign.
Constraints in many seed programs stem directly from the lack
of trained technology personnel. Training of seed technologies and analysis is,
Despite some efforts, improved seeds production and
distribution are not well developed in North Africa and West Asia. This is
especially for food legume, pasture and forage crops.
The status of seed programs is not uniform in all countries .Lack
of seed of improved varieties at the farmers level is still one of the
constraints to increased productivity. In many countries, subsistence farmers
lack access to improved seeds. Some North American and West Asian countries are
unable to utilize the results of crop improvement work carried out at the
national and international level. It is because of weak seed production and
Still in many countries, quality controls systems are
inadequate or even do not exist. For this reason, complication has arisen to
distribute improved seeds. Due to technical and financial resources, many
developing countries are unable to set up comprehensive government controlled
seed certification programs. Recognizing this and wishing to promote the
interstate movement of seed by farmers, FAO in the past planned to develop a
model of an alternative system for quality control. Such a program would see
the production of what FAO calls quality declared seed less expensive than
certified seed but still of a good quality. Also, the technical guidelines for
standards and procedures for the production of quality declared seed was
In recent times, only a few developing countries implement
realistic national programs for improved seeds despite efforts from the
government and donors Actually, FAO has organized a series of technical meeting
in Asia and Africa on the plan and implementation of seed programs. Such
meetings have been organized to promote the technical cooperation on a
sub-regional basis to promote the technical cooperation on a sub-regional basis
and to define, within the context of development plans, seed policies for the
preparation of national and regional seed programs. Also, FAO has promoted
joint actions on variety development and seed production by both the public and
private sectors with the hope that each country will have in operation viable
seed enterprises and secured supplies of seeds.
Improved seeds are of paramount importance for boosting
agricultural production. However, most farmers, especially of developing
countries, are unable to use such seeds due to their unavailability and
ignorance as well. Therefore, efforts are need from both the national and
international organizations to strengthen national capabilities to produce
improved seeds in order to increase the agricultural yield