Organic farming has been gaining popularity for its sustainable and environmentally friendly methods. However, a critical element of the organic agriculture system is often overlooked – organic seed. Organic seed is vital to ensure that the crops grown are truly organic, as seeds that are treated with chemicals or genetically modified can render the entire organic process futile.
The state of organic seed is a complex one. While organic farming has been steadily growing over the years, the organic seed sector has not kept pace with this growth. According to a study conducted by the Organic Seed Alliance, the availability of organic seed has increased by only 15% in the last decade, while the demand for organic seed has increased by more than 300%. This means that organic farmers are struggling to find organic seeds for their crops, which can lead to them resorting to non-organic seeds, thus compromising the entire organic process.
One of the primary reasons for this lack of growth in the organic seed sector is the lack of investment in organic seed research and breeding programs. Unlike conventional agriculture, which has a significant number of resources invested in seed research and development, organic agriculture receives a minimal amount of funding for seed research. This means that the organic seed sector is struggling to keep pace with the demand for organic seeds, which can lead to a lack of availability of organic seeds.
Another significant challenge faced by the organic seed sector is the lack of regulation in the seed industry. The organic certification process does not include seed certification, which means that there is no guarantee that the seeds used by organic farmers are truly organic. The lack of regulation in the seed industry also means that there is no standard definition of what constitutes organic seed, which can lead to confusion among farmers and consumers alike.
To address these challenges, there have been efforts to increase funding for organic seed research and breeding programs. In 2018, the USDA announced an investment of $6 million in organic agriculture research, which included funding for organic seed research. There have also been efforts to establish a national organic seed standard, which would ensure that organic seeds are truly organic and meet certain criteria.
Despite the challenges faced by the organic seed sector, there is hope for its growth and development. There has been an increasing awareness of the importance of organic seed, and there are efforts to increase funding and establish regulations to ensure the availability and quality of organic seed. Consumers are also becoming more conscious of the importance of organic agriculture, which can lead to increased demand for organic seeds.
The state of organic seed is one that requires attention and investment. Organic farming can only be truly organic if the seeds used are organic as well. Efforts need to be made to increase funding and establish regulations to ensure the availability and quality of organic seed. The organic seed sector has the potential for growth and development, and it is up to us to ensure that it does.