09 June 1999
Organic farmers fight seed shortage
By FWi staff
THE Soil Association has announced a major research project which it hopes will help organic farmers overcome a European shortage of organic seed.
Rules allowing organic farmers to grow crops from conventional seed if they are unable to secure organic seed supplies expire at the end of next year.
In the meantime, a Soil Association research project co-funded by the government and the seed industry will investigate the availability of organic seed.
Representatives from the seed industry, farmers, growers, researchers and policy makers hope to meet regularly to investigate organic seed availability.
Licensed organic farmers and growers will be questioned on their current use and future demand for organic seed by species, variety and volume.
This information will be matched against predicted organic seed production to identify shortfalls in supplies of organic seed after the 2000 deadline.
The Soil Association hopes the collected data will enable it to identify specific areas where permission for farmers to use conventional seed may have to be extended.
At present there is simply not enough organic seed available, said Robert Haward, the Soil Associations horticultural development officer.
We must take action now to support this growing market and develop suitable methods for doing so.