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“Agricultural chip” is stuck, how will China’s seed industry change?

The issue of “agricultural chips”-seeds has attracted wide attention in the two sessions this year. The government work report pointed out that the key to ensuring food security is seeds and cultivated land. Several representatives and committee members submitted relevant suggestions and proposals. Tang Renjian, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, stated that he is working with relevant departments to study and formulate an action plan for a good turnaround in the seed industry, and strive to achieve a major breakthrough in about 10 years.

"Agricultural chip" is stuck

The two sessions revealed what new trends in China’s seed industry?

Authorities explain in detail where is the “danger” of the seed crisis

Tang Renjian said that on the issue of “whether there are seeds or not, to ensure their survival”, it is satisfying to have a foothold in the country. For example, the two most basic rations of rice and wheat are completely selected and bred independently. Foreign-funded enterprises account for only about 3% of my country’s seed market share, and imported seeds account for only 0.1% of the national seed consumption.

At the same time, he confessed the gap in “good quality, high quality”. For example, the yield per unit area of ​​corn and soybeans is still relatively low, less than 60% of the world’s advanced level. Seeds such as sweet peppers and storable tomatoes in vegetables are imported from abroad. In addition, the feed conversion rate of live pigs and the milk production of dairy cows are only about 80% of the international advanced level. There are also white feather broiler ancestor breeders, which are mainly imported.

Li Yuncai, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and deputy chairman of the Hunan Provincial Committee of the Jiu San Society, has been rooted in the countryside for more than 10 years and is a “high-yield household” for the “three rural” proposals. Last year, at the National Congress of the People’s Republic of China, he suggested breaking the monopoly of seed, technology, capital and market price. This year, he continued to make suggestions with the “Proposal on Breaking Through the Seed Source “Stuck Neck” Technology to Make the Seed Industry Turn Around”.

According to the survey, he cited some outstanding problems in the seed industry:

-Seed source “stuck neck”. Although most of the seeds of my country’s main crops are “self-produced”, some of the seeds such as corn and potatoes rely on imports. High-end varieties of vegetable seeds are mainly imported. The phenomenon of species homogeneity is serious, and the independent innovation ability of the seed industry is insufficient.

——Most of the original patents of gene editing technology are controlled by foreign countries.

——Insufficient protection and utilization of germplasm resources. Incomplete collection of agricultural germplasm resources survey, weak preservation and protection, and poor sharing mechanism.

——The industrial concentration is low, and the pattern of multiple, small, scattered, and weak industries has not fundamentally changed. There are “two skins” between scientific research and the market. There are problems such as the disconnection between scientific research and the market, the serious disconnection between product certification and the market, and the “self-government” of academic and enterprise research.

-Seed industry management can’t keep up. The management of seed industry in individual counties and districts is in a state of “three nos” with no organization, no establishment, and no special personnel, forming a management vacuum. The brain drain is serious. There is a mismatch between hard work and salary, and there is a phenomenon of “unwilling to enter, unable to retain” college graduates.

Li Denghai, a representative of the National People’s Congress and director of the National Corn Engineering Technology Research Center (Shandong), said that China now has more than 7,200 licensed seed companies, and not many really have original innovation capabilities. Some seed industry companies change the traits of the promoted varieties a little, and promote them as new varieties, resulting in a serious phenomenon of seed homogeneity breeding on the market. “As soon as a new product has been promoted, there will be imitations right away. Now companies are launching new products on the market, and there are many concerns.” Li Denghai said.

What breakthrough points will the two sessions reveal?

The draft outline of the “14th Five-Year Plan” specifically talks about the “modern seed industry”. It points out: building a long-term national crop germplasm resource bank and a mid-term germplasm resource bank nursery, and improving the level of national breeding and production bases in Hainan, Gansu, and Sichuan. Construct Heilongjiang soybean and other regional breeding and seed production bases. Newly build, renovate and expand the national livestock and poultry and aquatic product germplasm resource bank, conservation farms (regions), and gene banks, and promote the construction of national-level livestock and poultry core breeding farms.

Tang Renjian revealed the progress of related work: The livestock and poultry germplasm bank is currently being approved. In addition, the marine fishery germplasm bank has been built. The new crop germplasm resource bank will be completed in September this year, and the storage capacity will reach 1.5 million copies after completion, ranking first in the world; make breakthroughs in original technology and chassis technology as much as possible; cultivate a batch of integrated seed breeding companies Establish and improve the commercial breeding system; do a good job in the construction of the Hainan South Propagation Base and the National Seed Bases in Gansu and Sichuan; manage the seed market, protect intellectual property rights, and in particular, severely crack down on illegal infringements.

Wang Guohai, member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and vice chairman of the Hunan Provincial Committee of the Zhi Gong Party, said that with the accelerated introduction of policies to support the development of the seed industry, more scientific and technological achievements of the seed industry will accelerate research and development, transformation, protection of variety innovation, and standardization of variety homogeneity. It will become the theme of the development of the seed industry, the national seed industry innovation system will be basically established, and a group of seed industry “hidden champions” will emerge quickly.

The South Propagation Base, known as the “Silicon Valley of South Propagation”, is eye-catching. It is understood that relying on the unique light and heat resources of Hainan, the Nanfan base can shorten the breeding cycle of crops by one-third to one-half. Every year, nearly 7,000 scientific and technical personnel from more than 700 agricultural research institutes, universities and seed companies in 29 provinces across the country go to South for breeding. More than 70% of the new crop varieties that have been bred across the country have been cultivated in the southern propagation base.

Guo Tao, deputy director of the Nanfan Administration Bureau of Hainan Province, said that, relying on the planned construction of 6028 acres of Nanfan Science and Technology City, a national seed industry innovation base will be built.

What issues should we pay attention to to win the turnaround?

At the two sessions, the representative committee members actively contributed their opinions and suggestions for winning the turnaround in the seed industry.

Li Yuncai suggested that capital investment should change traditional management methods and implement “backfilling” management of the management process and results of the list, avoiding the management methods of “separate administration” and decentralized funds, and improve scientific and technological research and development capabilities.

In addition, increase the collection and protection of germplasm resources. Rescue excavation and protection of endangered high-quality local varieties. Learn the practices of the advanced seed industry, focus on the excavation of specific traits and genes, enrich the excellent germplasm resources and powerful gene bank, and create a technological and material basis for the seed industry to leapfrog towards quality.

Ning Gaoning, member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Chairman of Sinochem Group and Chairman of China National Chemical Corporation, said that my country’s current relevant laws and regulations need to be strengthened to protect original innovations, and the restrictions on following imitation, imitation and modification breeding are not strict enough. In some regions, Similar varieties are flooded in the seed market of some varieties. He suggested that the Seed Law and the Regulations on the Protection of New Plant Varieties should be revised as soon as possible, strengthen enforcement of violations of laws and infringements, and create an environment that encourages innovation and fair competition.

Li Denghai suggested that the loss of scientific research personnel in seed industry enterprises should be alleviated. Seed industry scientific research is inseparable from leading talents and efficient teams. Although he is 72 years old, Li Denghai still insists on doing scientific research in the field. He said that supporting policies should be introduced in terms of professional title evaluation, scientific research project approval, and achievement evaluation to encourage more scientific researchers to invest in scientific research and innovation in the seed industry.

Shen Nanpeng, member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and global managing partner of Sequoia Capital, suggested establishing endangered and local varieties breeding protection areas, farmers planting special local varieties of agricultural products, the government supports local varieties to apply for geographical indication protection, and e-commerce is responsible for the production and marketing docking; setting up special projects to support Scientific research institutes, seed companies, and e-commerce companies jointly build commercial breeding centers to improve endangered and local varieties. E-commerce uses consumption data to assist in decision-making on good seed selection and breeding projects, and accelerates the selection of breakthrough new varieties that are loved by consumers and are highly efficient at planting ends.