What figures do this year’s giants have at the forefront of their mind? Some are future focused and goal-oriented, and some mark milestones and progress.

$850 million – U.S. dollars is the amount of money the Global Crop Diversity Trust is trying to raise to safeguard the genetic resources of the most important crops for food security. This is in the “forever perspective,” says Marie Haga, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. “This is a very cheap insurance policy for the world. It’s a very important basis for the seed industry to be able to keep up their business in the future, so let’s join hands. This can be done.”

1976 is when SeCan was formed. According to Jeff Reid, SeCan chief executive officer, it was one of the first successful 3P partnerships in Canada. He says SeCan has proven how productive collaboration between the public and private sectors can be, and shattered old myths that cooperation between the two can’t work. “In more recent years, we revised our [mandate] to include facilitating variety development. We were originally formed to just get varieties out there,” he says. “More recently, we’re focused on ensuring we provide those tools and infrastructure needed to get varieties into the marketplace as quickly and effectively as possible.”

2 – European Seed Association (ESA) member groups are based in the United Kingdom, which in 2016 voted to leave the European Union. According to secretary-general Garlich Von Essen, ESA is focused on ensuring plant breeding innovation can continue even as political turmoil continues to rock the U.K. and Europe. He emphasizes the importance of new breeding technologies to that innovation. “We hope Europe will not miss the boat on these, but will be at the forefront.”

50% increase in productivity for 20 million smallholder farmers is one of Syngenta’s goals as part of its Good Growth Plan. Through the plan, the company is working with governments, academics and non-government organizations to sustainably produce food, fuel and fibre with the aim of marking off six ambitious but measurable achievements by 2020.


6 Canadian seed industry groups are formally taking part in the Seed Synergy project, the goal of which is to craft a next-generation seed system for the country. According to Canadian Seed Growers’ Association executive director Glyn Chancey, the potential exists for dramatic change in Canada’s seed industry in the coming years. “What does ‘next-generation’ mean? I think we’ll find out when we get there,” he says.

10-12 in the form of seconds is a picosecond — the amount of time with which Erin Armstrong says unexpected changes can happen. “Those changes can indirectly and directly impact our business and the industry,” she explains, noting that it’s important to keep an eye on not only what’s happening in agriculture in Canada, but also on politics, the economy and conflicts in North America and internationally. “For the range of events we deal with, it’s really important to know and understand local. But for some of those events, local really means global.”

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