DECEMBER 2018 SEEDWORLD.COM / 31 the biggest challenge they have is the confusion around industry consolidation — who’s going to be that partner of choice? We want to be the partner of choice that helps them through this difficult transition. We need them to be our partner of choice so we can achieve the scale necessary to afford the R&D footprint we have — however, we’ve got to earn that position,” he says. “Some of the things we can provide them is insight on how to bridge consumer skepticism. Perhaps we can offer business insights or market research insights they don’t have the scale or affordability to do. Bringing them into our business and showing them the technology and where technology is headed is a great opportunity to partner as well.” The Independent Professional Seed Association (IPSA) also focuses on helping its members build trust and relationships with their farm customers. “IPSA helps encourage this whole model of trust and helps independent seed companies build their trust portfolios,” says Todd Martin, CEO of IPSA. He also acknowledges the emotional element surrounding seed. Martin says providing accurate information, good products and the best possible services help build trust with farmers and also add value farmers want. “I learned long ago, when a farmer looks at his purchase of seed, it is the most important and most emotional decision he can make,” Martin says. “After all, we all use the language ‘it starts with the seed.’ That is it at the end of the day, it is the most important purchase of the year. “A farmer has to have the best information possible to make that purchase. It’s really not a purchase he wants to buy on the internet. He needs somebody he trusts on his farm that gives him the best data available. And that’s one of the pieces from a local standpoint where the independent seed companies can’t be beat. They are in those communities and they are engaged with those farmers because they are their neighbors and friends.” Taking the Floor Improving communication was also high on the agendas of industry leaders in 2018. Michael Keller, secretary general of the International Seed Federation, says the industry must “commu- nicate more, better and also in an easier way.” Whether it’s with farmers, consumers or politicians, Keller believes communication is key. And the industry must learn how to address the floor in a world where consumers want to know exactly what they are eating, where it came from, who produced it, and where the seed originated as well as its composition. “We need to learn, we need to implement, that is our respon- sibility as a seed sector: we have to speak out on the different topics — innovation, illegal seed practices, support choice for farmers, but also access and use of genetic resources, which is absolutely key for our industry,” Keller says. “We should not communicate only on the science and data. We need to tell everybody our story. The story of seed. From where we are coming, to where we want to go, to what we do on a daily basis on the ground for all farmers in the world: small- holder, subsistence or larger farmer.” In addition to more effective and increased communication to parties outside the sector, engagement of the whole value chain is essential, such as grain traders, retailers and food processors. “We have to communicate not only with farmers, but also with the whole value chain. We have to be open, to explain what and how we are doing, what will be the future of the seed sector and what the next generation of quality seeds we bring to farm- ers will be,” Keller says. Furthermore, the significance of industry associations and committees as unifying and compelling voices for the sector has never been greater. “We need to work together, we need seed associations to be a voice at regional, national and international levels. This is the structure and the strength of ISF: that we have associations from Africa, Asia, South America, North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, working together on our shared visions and on our strategic objectives,” he says. “I cannot mention enough the importance of national seed associations to do the job on the ground where they are in the world.” In addition, industry committees continue to provide leader- ship and influence to achieve industry goals as well as ensuring program funding is sustained. For example, the Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee DAVIDHOLLINRAKE PresidentofSyngentaSeeds “Wehavetounderstandwhy[consum- ers]haveopposition,andwehaveto bridgetheheadandtheheart.” MICHAELKELLER SecretarygeneraloftheISF “Weshouldnotcommunicateonlythe scienceanddata.Weneedtotellevery- bodyourstory.Thestoryofseed.” TODDMARTIN CEOofIPSA “Whenafarmerlooksathispurchaseof seed,itisthemostimportantandmost emotionaldecisionhecanmake.”