EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 47 cient discussion within the board, or even the general assembly, if necessary. At the international level, SEPY is currently a member of the European Seed Association (ESA) and the International Seed Federation (ISF). In addition, there are also close contacts with other national seed associations and particularly with the other associations that operate in the field of agricultural inputs, such as the Greek Crop Protection Products Association and the Greek Fertilizer Trade Association. COMMITTEES The technical committees have always had a key role in SEPY’s organizational structure. At present, there are two such com- mittees focused on their responsibility issues, which consist of delegated representatives of association member companies. The activities of the Committee on Arable Crops and Seed Production and the Committee on Vegetables and Seedlings aim to: •  Discuss thoroughly all technical issues in their field with the help of experts on seed production and certification that are invited to participate when needed; •  Facilitate communication between members of the associ- ation, and discussion of the issues within the jurisdiction of the committee that arise in the professional activities of association members; •  Determine the actual questions and/or urgent problems in their field and put them under consideration to the board of directors, which then determines the position for action or response of the association for the promotion of the necessary initiatives; •  Record and evaluate the problems that arise during the implementation of legal regulation and proposing improve- ments, and; •  Measure the market size and other market characteristics per segment in the seed business. NUMBER OF MEMBERS The association brings together about 40 national and foreign companies that are active in breeding, reproduction and seed trade in Greece. The association’s members represent at least 80 per cent of the Greek seed market value. SEPY’s members are active all over the Greek territory and their regional diversity provides local employment to many hundreds of professionals. The association is always open to companies that chose to act with a policy framework that enhances reliability, transpar- ency and efficiency in the agricultural inputs market of Greece. AIMS AND TASKS The association’s main objectives include the following: •  Active participation in the development of relevant legislation • Ongoing cooperation with governmental authorities •  Promotion of the interests of association members by taking part in committees set up by the Greek government •  Keep members up to date as far as the National, European and World seed sector developments are concerned, pro- viding all necessary information • Organize and conduct seminars and workshops •  Jointly promote the common interests of the agricultural inputs sector •  Inform all stakeholders about the positive contribution of the Greek agricultural sector to overall economy and society MAIN SUCCESSES •  Following a SEPY’s request, the Greek Ministry of Agriculture decided to fund a three-year program (2016- 2018) for the promotion of certified seed use. •  VAT for planting seeds was reduced from 24% to 13%. •  The obligation to use certified seed in order for the farmer to receive the coupled subsidy, in the cases of durum wheat and cotton. •  In the CAP 2014-2020, the majority of seed production was included in the coupled EU subsidies. •  Greek companies’ introduction to the ISF and ESA activities. •  Hosting and organizing of the ISF World Seed Conference in Athens, in 2013. KEY EVENTS In 2013, the ISF World Seed Congress was held in Athens with more than 1,500 delegates, which was a new record for this con- gress. Since then, many Greek companies have shown increased interest in the global seed sector progress and have also initiated export activities of locally produced seeds. In February 2016, in cooperation with the Greek Crop Protection Products Association during the AGROTICA 2016 exhibition, SEPY organized an event titled “The next day of agri- cultural sector and the role of inputs”. The event was attended by politicians, journalists, representatives of the university com- munity and the seed sector; the event was the first initiative to address a wider audience in informing attendees about the importance of planting seeds and plant protection products. In September 2017, in cooperation with the Greek Crop Protection Products Association and the Greek Fertilizer Trade Association, SEPY organized an Athens event titled “The contribution of inputs to the agro-food sector” with the participation of important speakers such as Garlich Von Essen (General Secretary of the European Seed Association), Georgios Rapsomanikis (Senior Economist in Food And Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) and Greek university pro- fessors with significant research experience in the field of agri- cultural inputs. FUTURE PLANS •  Inform the general public about the positive contribution of the agricultural inputs to the Greek economy and soci- ety, through a more close and formal cooperation with the other two associations in the inputs sector. •  Promote the key role of the seed sector and the innova- tions which it develops in facing the future challenges concerning food, feed and fiber, in the ever-growing world population. •  Establish the necessary legislation and improving the con- trol mechanism, in order to minimize the “black seed” trading. •  Contribute to the establishment of a Greek royalty collec- tion system regarding Farm Saved Seeds (FSS). Efthimios N. Efthimiadis, President of SEPY