“A WORLD WHERE quality seed is accessible to all,” that’s the vision of the International Seed Federation (ISF). Instrumental in leading the working group that was responsible for redefining the federation’s mission and vision a few years ago, Jean-Christophe (JC) Gouache says that while the vision has not changed, the environment in which those in the seed industry work is constantly changing. At the time, Gouache was serving as first vice president and ISF was working toward the development of its Strategic Objectives 2016-2020. Today, Gouache is wrapping up his two-year presidency. “Since then, agriculture and farming systems have come under increased pres- sure from a multitude of points,” Gouache shares, pointing to society, resources, cli- mate change and the workforce. “We have to be better at producing more with less.” But that concept is nothing new; those in the agricultural industry have long been aware of that mantra. It’s the culmina- tion of pressure points and the urgency around it that’s new, and this has put the seed industry in the spotlight. “What is the No. 1 factor that can relieve part of those pressures?” Gouache asks. “It’s genetics. It’s plant breeding. The seed sector plays a significant role in delivering solutions to improve all types of farming systems.” The diversity of farming systems across the globe is immense, spanning From the World Bank to the Gates Foundation and from the International Plant Protection Convention to national plant protection organizations, the International Seed Federation must work to identify areas of agreement and build from there — making quality seed accessible to all. Julie Deering jdeering@issuesink.com from smallholder farmers living on a few dollars a day with maybe one hectare to those with thousands of acres and oper- ating multimillion-dollar businesses, and everything in between. Regardless of size, Gouache says genetic progress is delivered to farmers through seeds. “It’s all about plant breed- ing innovation and the global move- ment of seeds,” he says, noting that very concept is the foundation for ISF’s vision and mission. “Everything we do at ISF is according to the strategic plan, which includes five priority areas: innovation, movement of seed, intellectual property rights, biodiversity and engagement.” Diversity is Everywhere The same diversity among farming systems can be seen across the board, from seed systems and governments to policies and enforcement, and from culture and beliefs to business models and funding. ISF Secretary General Michael Keller recently traveled to India. “There’s such incredible diversity within their industry,” he shares. “There’s also diversity in China as they are trying to move forward, and there are lots of dynamics at play. Regardless of the region, I’ve seen the constant need for the industry to come together and dis- cuss regulations, especially those around intellectual property and seed systems.” STRATEGIC ENGAGEMENT 42 / SEEDWORLD.COM JUNE 2018