Mardi looking to establish national seed gene bank

  • Business
  • Monday, 30 Jul 2007

KANGAR: There is a need to establish a national seed gene bank to conserve genetic resources for plant breeding, National Seed Association Malaysia (NSAM) pro-tem chairman Prof H.F.Chin said. 

Prof Chin said Mardi was currently looking into establishing such a bank in Serdang, Selangor soon. 

He said for example, if new varieties of tomatoes were to be bred, there was a need to go back to the old varieties to get its genetic material. 

“Therefore old is gold, and there is a need to conserve the old plant genes,” he said during his talk titled ‘Malaysian Seed Scenario: Issues, Challenges and Possible Solutions at Dewan Wawasan 2020 here on Monday. 

His talk was part of the ‘Seeds Technology and K-Economy’ seminar held in conjunction with the launch of the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER). 

Prof Chin, who is also the honorary fellow at Bioversity International, said the country lacked seed related laws and regulations, that included a Seed Act, a National Seed Council, a National Seed Association, the promotion of plant breeders’ rights and related certification scheme. 

He said to have a seed industry which was modern, dynamic and competitive there was a need to be self-sufficient in seed production for selected crops. 

“We need to breed high yielding, pest and disease-resistant varieties. We also need to have sufficient manpower both skilled labour and specialists and to have policies, rules and regulations in place. 

“Currently, the supply of high quality planting materials is still insufficient and inconsistent and the industry players are not well integrated resulting in the lack of focus, prioritisation and coordination. 

“Therefore, a major portion of seeds are now being imported,” he added. 

Prof Chin said he hoped the NSAM would be registered soon. 

“We are still waiting for approval from the Registrar of Societies, and we hope it would be approved soon, as we have been talking about setting-up such an association for the past 20 years,” he said. 

He hoped the association will be launched during the National Seed Symposium next year. 

He said with the NSAM, it would be a platform to share ideas and experiences and to promote closer cooperation between those involved in the seed industry. 

“NSAM can help formulate the National Seed Policy, especially the Seed Act and to develop more varieties through breeding, selection and adaptation besides developing seedless hybrid varieties,” he added. 

He said the Northern Corridor Economic Region is an extremely appropriate avenue for the growth of the industry, and that the involvement of the private sector was the way forward. 

“With this development, the role of the government in creating a policy framework, within which the private sector and the seed associations can play a vital role,” he added. 

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