A Polish plant breeding official recognizes the seed industry’s critical role in the republic’s economy during the opening ceremony of the International Seed Federation’s 2015 World Seed Congress, held May 25-27 in Kraków, Poland.
“It is worth noting that Poland is the sixth largest country in the European Union,” says Bogusław Rzeźnicki of Poland’s Department of Plant Breeding and Protection.
With a population of 38.2 million people, agriculture employs more than 12 percent of the population. “Poland is a world leader in the production of apples,” Rzeźnicki shares. “We are also known for the production of cabbage, onions and other leafy green vegetables.”
Karol Marciniak, who served as the chair of the National Organizing Committee of the Polish Seed Trade Association, highlights that Kraków is one of the most Polish academic, cultural and artistic centers. “It’s also part of a growing economy,” Marciniak says, noting that agriculture in Poland has experienced much growth in recent years. “The last part of our economy depends on agriculture, which is rooted in the seed industry.”
Despite this, farms in Poland remain relatively small in comparison to the United States. About 52 percent of agricultural land and 56 percent of livestock comprise farms of less than 20 hectares, or about 50 acres, according to the latest data from Eurostat.
Rzeźnicki notes that the seed and farming sectors face global challenges. “We need to produce more food,” he says, adding that the industry needs to ensure the protection of intellectual property and bring new varieties to the market place that are better adapted to changes in the climate and the environment.
Additionally, Rzeźnicki says work is under way to improve the access and benefit sharing mechanism of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.
In wrapping up his comments, Rzeźnicki hopes this year’s meeting will allow congress participants to discuss not only goals for the industry’s future success but also the challenges that the industry must overcome.