Sarah Wilbanks
Sarah Wilbanks

For more information, see the First Quarter issue of Seed Today.

Established in 1919, AOSCA has a long standing history of providing certification services to the seed industry.

Data is being compiled for the 2023 crop year, and AOSCA member agencies are holding strong inspecting over 2.4 million acres in the United States last year, with another 1.2 million acres in Canada.

While AOSCA is most recognized in the United States and Canada for certification, both countries also participate in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Seed Schemes, established in 1958.

The OECD Seed Schemes is a harmonized system of seed certification principles to promote the movement of high quality seed globally. There are currently 62 participating countries.

In most of these countries seed certification is required of all seed grown and therefore they have a very different picture than the U.S. system, where it is optional. AOSCA, OECD, and USDA work closely together in order to help facilitate international shipment for U.S.-grown seed to other OECD participating countries.

I recently attended an OECD meeting hosted in Zambia where in the 1990’s the country’s hunger percentage was around 40%.

Since joining the OECD Seed Schemes in 2017, Zambia’s hunger percentage had declined to 20%, a figure attributed largely due to the access of quality seeds due to the OECD Seed Schemes.

Here in the United States where our agricultural systems are more advanced, we often forget about the need for the most basic principles can affect whether someone goes to bed hungry or not.

It’s just another reminder to all of us working in the seed industry of the role we play in feeding the world, a role that I am quite proud of.

New Projects in AOSCA

AOSCA members are busy with several new programs in 2024.

One to note is called the AOSCA Ambassador Program. This program developed from a need of making sure AOSCA and its member agencies are educating and marketing its programs everywhere from growers and seed conditioners to international conferences.

The Ambassadors are being armed with materials and training and will be starting to attend a diversified event list in the spring.

We are in the second year of our Standards Book Digitalization and Modernization project, a strategic initiative that was identified in 2022.

At the completion of this project our agencies will have a modernized standards book to refer to guide them on AOSCA Standards, Guidelines, and Operating Procedures.

An additional project that launches in 2024 is the AOSCA Academy: Training the future of seed certification.

This is a continuing education leadership type program that has been developed to help train and foster the growth of our members who are in the beginning stages of their career in seed certification.

The seed industry is facing the challenges of succession and AOSCA wants to get in front of that issue by investing in our membership.

The Academy’s first cohort will meet in April and the members will participate in a year long program to wrap up in December 2024. We are very excited about this program.

Upcoming Regional and Annual Meetings

As always this time of year, we are gearing up for our in-person regional meetings.

Our Southern region will meet March 27-28 in Raleigh, NC. The Western and Northern regions are hosting a joint meeting this year and will meet April 8-10 in Custer, SD. And before we know it, it will be time for our annual meeting, which will be June 16-19 in San Destin, FL.

For information on those, please visit the AOSCA website (Meetings and Events tab).

Written by Sarah Wilbanks, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, /