By Fawad Shah, President/CEO
Focus on Education and Outreach
With respect to the number of acres we inspect and certify, Minnesota Crop Improvement Association ranks as one of the top seed certification agencies in the United States. Additionally, MCIA offers a uniquely diversified portfolio of services: seed testing, foundation seed development, native seed certification, weed seed–free forage and mulch certification, organic certification, and the MnDOT Approved Seed Vendor Program, among others.
For the past few years, MCIA has also increased its education and outreach efforts. For example, MCIA put its expertise to use in the development of an undergraduate course for the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. The course, Seed Science, Technology and Society, provides a gateway to the understanding of seed production, conditioning, quality, testing, certification, and marketing; state and federal seed laws and regulations; and basic botany. Included in the semester-long course is a tour of the MCIA facility, allowing students to observe various aspects of seed testing (purity, germination, TZ testing, and the like), seed conditioning, and cold storage. The UMN first asked MCIA to provide course instruction in fall 2018. Since then, the course has gained in popularity. In fall 2022, twenty-four students signed up for the course, the highest enrollment yet.
MCIA has great working relations with sister seed certifying agencies, state and federal seed regulatory authorities, and academia. In October, at the request of the Office of the Vice President for Research at Iowa State University, MCIA provided a comprehensive overview of germplasm licensing of agronomic varieties released by the University of Minnesota to eighteen university educators, researchers, and administrators visiting from Zimbabwe. This group also toured the seed lab, seed conditioning plant, and cold storage, where germplasm of various varieties and breeding lines are kept under conditions that are ideal to maintain viability and quality.
Earlier in the year, at the request of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, MCIA held a roundtable discussion on ways for Pakistan to join the OECD Seed Schemes. Participants included staff members of Pakistan’s Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department and key members of that country’s seed industry.
These are just a few high-profile examples of how MCIA is not only sharing its expertise in seed certification, germplasm licensing, and seed testing, but is also increasing the organization’s visibility on domestic and international stages.