The lead article by Dr Fetien Abay of Mekelle University, emphasizes the important role that universities can and must play: (i) in maintaining the integrity of the genetic resource base; and (ii) in implementing quality assurance and certification schemes to ensure the availability of high quality seeds, planting material and genetic stock for crop and livestock production. At the same time, universities need to engage with farmers and other actors, balance commercial and academic /scientific interests and respond to policy.
The second lead article by Dr Michael Waithaka, Manager Policy Analysis and Advocacy Program, ASARECA demonstrates not only the importance of policy but the need for policy harmonization within regional trading blocs. The consensus building process takes time and technical and legislative support is required to achieve consensus and for implementing agreed regulations.
One of the best models that I have seen in operation at a national level for ensuring the integrity of the genetic input into production, is the system which is implemented in Uruguay (GCARD2 field visit). The success of this national system involves collaboration among government officials, the academic and research communities and the private sector including farmers, farmer organizations, agro-processors and their related associations, to ensure that the integrity of the system is sustained.
Please also view the presentation by Ricardo Montero, TexBel Agricultural Investment Limited, Belize on “Phased Rehabilitation vs New Cultivations or Both” which was made at the Coconut Industry development workshop in Guyana in early October during the Caribbean Week of Agriculture. A core strategy of this Belizean coconut rehabilitation programme is the use of certified planting material for rehabilitating old and establishing new plantations. The importance of research and development and sound agronomic practices are underscored.
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