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An impact Assessment of China’s Seed Policy

Research Team of Multi-disciplines scientists from different institutions [1]

Key Messages

China’s seed policies have gone through four main development stages. The focus of policy support has shifted from being farmer-centered to public research driven, followed by a move to being market driven, then to market oriented, and finally to supporting enterprises to become bigger and stronger; gradually, seeds have changed from natural resources with a public attribute to private property and commodities with a market value. In this process, farmers’ role, rights and interests are increasingly marginalized.

The diversity of local varieties of the 3 staple food crops and traditional food crops nationwide showed a trend of rapid decrease, main staple food crops were decreasing faster than traditional food crops, and the reduction rate and share were in direct proportion to the commercialization rate of crops and varieties. The breeding basis of three staple food crops tends to narrower with the increase of the improved variety rate.

The Farmers’ seed systems based on smallholder farmers’ seed saving, exchange, selection and seed production  are under serious threat, and the diversity of crop varieties in field has reduced rapidly. At same time genetic base for breeding are getting increasingly narrower especially the 3 staple food crops.

With the rapid socio economic development and prosperity, the regional differences in   food consumption and needs become increasingly bigger and diverse. Combined with the pressure of climate change in recent years, the long-term seed policy and seed systems aiming at high yield mainly cannot satisfy the increasingly differentiated and diversified agricultural production modes and food demands in different regions. From the perspective of the seeds needs, we found that China’s agriculture presents the following three modes in terms of production and operation modes and their regional distribution, i.e., 1) Industrialized agricultural mode, 2) Emerging agroecological mode,

3) Traditional agricultural mode.

The formal seed system and the farmers’ seed systems that ought to support and complement each other have gradually become separated from each other. The overall trend is that the farmers’ seed systems are increasingly marginalized and farmers are increasingly dependent on the seed market. At the same time, the germplasm base used in the formal seed systems is narrowing and increasingly relies on foreign germplasm resources. The overall trend of China’s agriculture and seed industry shows negative externality, narrowing breeding base, and uniformity of genetic source.

The analysis of the existing PPB and PVS cases in China illustrated their technical and institutional innovations and potential scaling out and up  mechanisms and pathways for linking the formal and farmer seeds systemsIt is positive and promising that the New Seed Law (revised in 2016) in China provides legal protection for farmers’ rights and interests. This is crucial for enhancing farmers’ seed systems and their contribution to national food security and sustainable development in China. In line with the state’s ecological civilization construction goal and the national rural revitalization strategy, appropriate supportive policy to improve the existing seed systems through effective seed laws implementation.

[1] Including 1)Song Yiching, social scientist from Chinese Academy of Science, 2)Zhang Shihuang , chief scientist of crop breeding from Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science, 3)Xue Dayuan, chief scientist on ecology and biodiversity legal aspect from Minzu University of China, 4) Zhang Zongwen , scientist of crop science and agro-biodiversity from Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science, 5)Wang Yunyue, plant scientist from Yunnan Agricultural University, 6)Liu Denggao, independent scientist on Soybean and former MOA officer, 7)Wang Xiaobing, economist from Beijing University, 8) Xiang Cheng, economist from Chinese Academy of Science, 9) Zhu Zengyan, lawer from Third World Network, 10) Zhang Yanyan and 11) Guang Qi both from the Farmers Seed Network (China).



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