Certified seeds to enhance market appeal
Updated: September 9, 2023 11:24 China Daily

China is working to create a national system to certify quality crop seeds, which helps combat faulty products and enables the country's sprawling seed production sector to gain a competitive edge in the global market, according to a guideline on Wednesday.

The new evaluation system would help improve seed quality, enhance entrepreneurial competitiveness, accelerate the sector's quality development and increase crop output and production efficiency, it said.

Under the system, seed companies file applications to a certification body approved by the State Administration for Market Regulation, the market regulator, the guideline said.

The government encourages businesses to acquire such certifications.

Certified businesses can be exempted from certain regular checks, and will have preferential treatment in bidding for government-funded research projects, it said.

The market regulator also unveiled a round, green pattern inscribed with "China Seed Certification" in both Chinese and English to endorse certified products.

The guideline was published on Wednesday by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, alongside the market regulator, which oversees the trading of agricultural materials such as seeds and fertilizers.

The system was inaugurated in line with directives laid out in the Seed Industry Revitalization Action Plan, it said.

The action plan touched upon a wide range of topics such as creating a commercialized breeding system, cracking down on piracy products and ramping up protection over intellectual properties.

It was reviewed and approved by a high-level meeting presided over by President Xi Jinping in 2021.

A news release by the guideline's authors called the certification a "letter of credit" for quality seeds, a "health checkup proof" for seed companies and a "passport" for export.

The certifying campaign is part of a continuous push by central authorities to invigorate the country's seed industry and make Chinese seed products more competitive in the global market.

On Dec 24, 2021, the final amendment to the Seed Law was published by the top legislature and went into effect on March 1, 2022.

The amendment expanded intellectual property rights for new plant varieties, extended and improved the level of protection, and increased enforcement and compensation for infringement to stimulate domestic innovation.

The amendment established an essentially derived variety system within China, a change deemed a boon to breeding innovators and that had been advocated for by industry insiders for many years.

China is the second-largest seed market in the world behind the United States, and annually plants 12 million metric tons of seed, with a market value of 120 billion yuan ($16.3 billion), according to a 2022 report published by the agricultural ministry.

According to official data, China is self-sufficient in rice and wheat seed and nearly self-sufficient in corn and soybean seed.

While domestic vegetable varieties continue to improve, they do not meet the diversified needs of the market, so China still imports 15 percent of all its vegetable seed.

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