Niels Louwaars is an external member of the Department of Business, Consumer and Competence Studies, Wageningen University & Research and works at Plantum in the Netherlands. He focuses on seed systems, policies and regulations in addition to serving as a columnist for European Seed.
Learn more about the pressing industry issues Louwaars covered in his four columns from 2022.
Policy making is not an easy task. The famous insight ‘governing is anticipating’ is increasingly difficult with populist trends more and more affecting us. Looking ahead and beyond our own limited geographical field of view is hard. For a globally operating seed sector, village-politics is troublesome. Even when global issues are being discussed, village-level implementation tends to be the outcome.
Discussions are ongoing in OECD with regard to the certification of variety mixtures in more crops than just the grasses and maize mixtures (such as for ‘refuge in the bag’). It is a discussion with several angles and taking a position seems on the one hand easy, but after further deliberation, it may be more complex.
When farmers are in despair, humanitarian food supplies are imperative to lessen human suffering and death. The need for such actions was in the headlines with Ukrainian grains stuck in the country and the World Food Programme was confronted in a logistical and financial crisis in order to relieve food shortages in the Middle East and east Africa in particular. Its double-digit budget increases over the past years reaching USD $9.6 billion last year, will not meet the increasing purchase and fuel prices.
Since the Brundtland report, the word ‘sustainability’ has not lost importance in society even though it became a container that could be filled with meaning at will. It is also a buzzword in many company strategies. In the seed sector, the primary weight is that we contribute to sustainable production and value chains through our breeding and supply of healthy quality seeds. Higher yields, resistances to pests and diseases and tolerance to abiotic stresses, and also robustness in transport and storage, and reducing food waste at the end of the chain – we contribute.