DLG working groups capture requirements and identify solutions for optimising both plant variety testing and the national listing of varieties in Eastern Europe

Lack of independent high-quality plant variety comparisons – Transparency in variety testing and professional competence for on-farm variety tests needed

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The DLG Country Working Group Eastern Europe and the DLG Committee for Plant Breeding, Varieties & Seeds have together formulated a position paper titled “ Situation, requirements and solutions for optimising variety tests and the national listing of varieties in Eastern Europe”. The aim is to improve the current situation with regard to access to independent variety information and high-performance varieties for farmers.

The opening statement of the position paper from the DLG Country Working Group Eastern Europe is that farmers in Eastern European countries lack access to high-quality and independent comparisons of the existing plant varieties.

Current Information on variety testing from state authorities and seed companies, as well as those organised locally on the farm are often not sufficient. The state variety testing authorities are often underfinanced and their technical equipment and farm inputs are sub-optimal. Alongside these factors, transparency regarding the test results and approval criteria are required in order to boost confidence in the decisions from the plant variety offices.

The seed companies’ tests are conducted primarily to describe their own plant varieties and do not provide a neutral and unbiased overview of varieties overall. The on-farm variety tests do not reflect the available variety diversity and are also very costly. On the one hand, the results are barely comparable or transferrable to other sites and, on the other, the agricultural managers are often unwilling to share their results with third parties. Small and medium-sized agricultural companies generally cannot afford to undertake their own on-farm variety testing.

The DLG working groups have captured the requirements concerning both variety testing and the national listing of varieties and have proposed solutions that enable not only independent variety comparisons but also easier access to the breeding improvements that offer high-performance varieties, suitable for the local conditions.

This position paper is aimed at farmers, particularly those interested in developing a network for on-farm variety testing, plant breeders, variety test sponsors, agricultural policy makers as well as financial backers of public-private partnership projects.

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