Production of organic seeds: A business case - LIVESEED cross-visit to the Netherlands

30 September – 3 October 2019

The colourful programme of the third LIVESEED cross visit led the team to various stations along the value chain of organic seeds. The four-day business case started at the Centre for Genetic Resources at Wageningen University where participants got an insight into the latest research on optimising seed storage conditions. The staff at the Centre presented the national organic seed situation and the legal and institutional framework for producing and using organic seed in the Netherlands.

Day two addressed vegetable seed production. At Vitalis, one of the world’s leading companies in organic seed production, participants learned about Germains organic seed treatment services, visited the fields of Vitalis’ with a wide diversity of seed crops, and explored different technologies for seed cleaning. At De Bolster, participants learned how a family business produces seeds from more than 370 varieties on 400 hectares. These seeds are destined for professional growers, seed companies, retailers and hobby gardeners.

The third day was dedicated to seed potato production. NAK, the Dutch inspection service of seed potatoes, clarified how they carry out disease testing and the process of certification. Agrico, supplier of organically grown seed potatoes and ware potatoes under the brand Bioselect, opened the doors to their potato assessment centre for the LIVESEED partners. The participants were guided through the various steps from breeding to production to trade to ensure high-quality potatoes.

The last day of the visit led the group to Naktuinbouw, the Netherlands Inspection Service for Horticulture. Challenges of setting up organic DUS (distinctness, uniformity, stability) trials for registration purposes were discussed during the visit of Naktuinbouw’s greenhouses and fields.

The 3rd LIVESEED cross-visit was hosted by the Louis Bolk Institute in cooperation with Bionext, and focused on organic seed production of vegetable crops and potatoes. From 30 September to 3 October 2019, a multi-actor expert team, consisting of farmers, breeders, seed producers, researchers, and trainers participated from across Europe, especially from countries where organic seed production is less developed and/or has particular needs.

LIVESEED would like to thank LBI and Bionext for the wonderful organisation of the cross-visit; WUR, Vitalis, De Bolster, NAK, Agrico, Naktuinbouw for their presentations, hospitality, and valuable insight from their work. We would also like to thank all participants for sharing their expertise with the host companies/organisations and each other. We hope that the visit contributed to the mutual learning process and equipped the participants with the knowledge on organic seed production to multiply the gained knowledge in their country as change agents.”

Group picture in front of WUR © Pedro Mendes Moreira

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 727230 and by the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation under contract number 17.00090.

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