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.
The colourful programme led the team to various stations along the value chain of organic seeds. As a starting point served the Centre for Genetic Resources at Wageningen University, where participants got an insight into latest research on how to optimise seed storage conditions. The national organic seed situation along with the legal and institutional framework for producing and using organic seed in the Netherlands were presented to the experts. The second day was dedicated to 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 ha 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, explained the ways 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 their doors to Agrico’s potato assessment centre. Here the participants were guided through the various steps taken from breeding to production to trade to ensure high-quality potatoes. The last day 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.
LIVESEED would like to thank LBI and Bionext for the wonderful organisation of the cross-visit; WUR, Vitalis, De Bolster, NAK, Agrico, Naktuinbouw and Germains Seeds 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.
A selection of photos from the cross-visit is available on our Facebook album.