Canada's Seed Industry
An estimated nine out of every ten bites of food available in the world today begin with the planting of seeds. The Canadian seed industry produces a wide variety of quality seeds for sowing including major cereals and oilseeds, special crops, pulses, forages and turf grasses, ornamental, and garden seeds, to sustain Canada's vibrant agriculture sector as well as to meet the needs of foreign agricultural sectors.
According to the Canadian Seed Trade Association, the Canadian seed industry generates annually some $750 million in domestic and export sales and exports to approximately 110 countries. The sector is composed of approximately 154 seed companies and 4,500 seed producers of pedigreed seed.
Canadian commercial seed producers and companies produce and market both certified and common seeds to meet the diverse needs of growers. Certified seeds are verified for their genetic identity and purity by an external field inspector and, are used by farmers who want additional assurance on seed quality, variety purity, and performance. Common seeds are mainly found with forage crops. Approximately one-third of forage seed production is sold as common seed, mainly in Canada and the United States.
Several of Canada's seed organizations are active in international seed networks. The main organizations are: Canadian Seed Growers' Association (CSGA), Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA), Commercial Seed Analysts Association of Canada (CSAAC), and Canadian Seed Institute (CSI).
The Canadian Seed Growers' Association (CSGA) is the sole pedigree agency in Canada for all agricultural seed crops except for potato and tree seeds. The CSGA is made up of approximately 4,500 specialized seed producers in nine provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.
The Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA) is a voluntary association of approximately 154 seed companies from across Canada. It represents a broad cross section of Canadian businesses that develop, produce, and sell seed. The CSTA represents nearly all Canadian seed exports and exporters. Membership varies widely from small firms specializing in garden seed and herbs to large co-operatives in Western Canada, as well as from large multinational corporations with diverse interests to small family-run businesses. Many of the multinational seed companies have private plant breeding programs and are active in biotechnology. Members of the CSTA are involved in a number of initiatives, including variety exchange agreements at the research and development level and contractual agreements for production of seed for export and import. In addition, many member firms are involved in seed multiplication under contract for foreign customers.
The Commercial Seed Analysts Association of Canada (CSAAC) represents a group of over 100 professionals across North America who are engaged in the assessment of the quality sampling and testing of seeds. CSAAC members are hired by private seed testing laboratories or are staff members of seed companies who carry out their own seed analysis. Seed analysts carry out seed purity, germination, and vigour tests, identify diseases, and prepare certificates of analysis for seed grading purposes.
The Canadian Seed Institute (CSI) provides specific quality assurance services to the seed industry. Currently, CSI monitors over 1,200 Canadian seed establishments, authorized importers and accredited seed testing laboratories.
The CSI accredits seed companies and seed testing laboratories to help them comply with the Seeds Act, and its Regulations, which govern the seed sector.
In 2003, the CSTA, CSI, CSGA, and Grain Growers of Canada teamed up to launch the Seed Sector Review. The objectives of this review were to conduct an industry-wide assessment of the seed sector and to analyse key regulatory challenges facing the industry. This led to the creation of the National Forum on Seed (NFS) in April 2005. The mandate of the NFS is to facilitate broad consultation and consensus building in the Canadian seed and crop sectors on all proposals for seed sector policy and regulatory change.
Global seed trade data is also available from the International Seed Federation.
For the latest market information and analysis available from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, please consult the following publications:
Canadian Seed Growers' Association
P.O. Box 8455
202 - 240 Catherine Street
President: Barry Reisner
Executive Director: Dale Adolphe
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