As a company and within the organic sector Bejo is committed to strengthen the organic sector and making organic seed available. In this capacity Bejo, together with other organic seed companies, attended a series of international LIVESEED conferences funded by the EU, to discuss the challenges that exist in the introduction of organic seed into the European market.

As demand for organic food grows, so does the demand for organic vegetable seed. Since almost 30 years the use of organic seed is, whenever available, obligatory in European organic farming. In case of insufficient availability, farmers can apply for an authorization from the competent authority to use non-organic seed. In the new organic regulation EC 848/2018 it is defined that derogations will be phased out by the end of 2035 for all plant reproductive material. In practice however, at this moment in 2021, non-organic seed is still widely used in organic farming while in several EU member states there is hardly any certified organic seed on the market. This raises the question what is lacking in the current regulation and policies for organic seed.

Roadmap

During the international workshops in June and November 2020 it was concluded that, in order to reach 100% organic seed by the end of 2035 a stepwise, proactive and comprehensive approach is needed. A policy in which all relevant stakeholders are involved and commit themselves to making progress. A roadmap to 100% organic seed with intermediate objectives and a description of the actions required to achieve this ultimate goal. By announcing in time when the goal of 100% organic seed must be achieved, both growers and seed producers can prepare for this. On the one hand it gives the farmers the time to try our new varieties, for which organic seed is already available. At the same time seed companies are stimulated to enter the organic market if they want to maintain their organic market share.

Discussion

More work needs to be done to develop a clear format for the design and implementation of roadmaps to 100% organic seed. Since the starting situation differs greatly from country to country, a country-specific approach seems necessary. The obstacles that need to be solved and the steps that need to be taken to reach 100% organic seed may also differ per crop. Therefor also crop-oriented solutions need to be developed. Preferably the roadmaps are implemented in the national organic action plans.

Want to read more?

The presentations and the main outcomes of the Liveseed conferences are summarized in this report by LIVESEED:

Raaijmakers M, Heining N, Gatzert X and Meyer K (2020) Notes of the international workshop on the implementation of the regulation for organic seed June 25- 26, 2020. 

To be able to provide all the varieties needed for the organic market, we need to have intermediate short-term targets, to serve as step stones in the long term picture.

Bram Weijland, Organic Affairs Coordinator at Bejo