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More Sharing, More Development and Growth of the Malaysian Seed Industry



The plant seed industry in Malaysia is highly regulated by the formal seed system. The formal seed system over-restricts the seed producer's right to monopolize and supposedly this will encourage innovation. Innovations like this are driven by profit, the more secret they keep and the tighter they control, the more profit they make. Most of the plant seeds circulating in the market are obtained from commercial seed factories from home and abroad. Important seeds such as rice are produced locally but are more tightly controlled because they involve a food security subsidy system that requires farmers to use only commercially certified seeds to get seed subsidies. Although there are still many farmers who carry out the traditional activity of saving, sharing and selling seeds to each other, the activity is not properly recognized by the government due to the lack of published data on the activity. As a result, farmers who store and process seeds are often marginalized because they are denied subsidies and are not counted in government schemes.

This discrimination culminated when there was a government plan to amend the Protection of New Plant Varieties Act 2004 (PNPV 2004) to be consistent with the UPOV Convention Act 1991. PNPV 2004 recognized the right of small farmers to save, share and sell seeds while UPOV 1991 prohibited most of these activities because seed companies have monopoly rights over the seeds they produce. More unfortunately, another new law is also proposed which is the Seed Quality Bill which requires all individuals who want to process seeds to have a license on the grounds that plant diseases that arise are caused by farmers and individuals who process their own seeds. This is an unfounded and discriminatory accusation.

The absence of a reliable official database and the uncertainty of the number of farmers practicing the activity of saving, sharing and selling seeds is a problem that needs to be addressed by the authorities as well as the farmers and seed savers themselves. This database should serve as a tool for research, networking and training to encourage the activity of saving, sharing and selling seeds among farmers who are part of the agroecological ecosystem and at the same time fighting for the right of farmers to save, process, share and sell any type of seed available. in the country. Contrary to the belief of many parties who want to control seed sharing and only rely on seed innovation based on scientific experiments in laboratories and research farms, the progress and diversity of the seed industry actually depends on the breadth of seed sharing practices among us, both commercial seeds and traditional seeds. This partnership must be based on the same understanding of co-ownership and mutual benefit, not taking advantage and self-importance.

Seeds stored for a long time, which are not shared and do not circulate in the ecosystem of forests, fields, gardens and home environments will lose their ability to adapt to changes in weather, soil and water conditions. Not only that, changes in types and resistance to pests and diseases also need to be paid attention to because they happen more quickly. Just as humans and animals that never leave the house will easily get sick when they are outside, plant seeds that are kept and not shared, over time will lose their special characteristics from one generation to another.

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