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Workshop on Organic Heterogeneous Material was held

Jul 20, 2023

ÖMKi and Dottenfelderhof organised a webinar and workshop on Organic Heterogeneous Materials (OHM)! The event took place on June 6th and brought together nearly 60 project partners, including researchers, breeders, seed producers, and competent authorities.

Presentations on various topics were held

During the first half of the programme, the presentations aimed to set the scene and share all the relevant and latest information and research findings concerning OHM.

Riccardo Bocci of Remi Sete Rurali gave a presentation on “Policy Background”, emphasising the importance of moving from uniformity to diversity. This was followed by a presentation on “Breeding strategies and traceability” where Isabelle Goldringer from INRAE gave examples of different population breeding strategies.

Anders Borgen, a farmer from Denmark, gave a presentation on the “Notification and marketing of OHM”. “As long as organic plant breeding is small, we need an alternative financing system, the whole chain has to be involved, not only the farmers” – he concluded. Carl Vollenweider from Dottenfelder then spoke about seed production and the current state of the European survey.

The presentations were followed by two pitch talks. Firstly, Michael Schneider from FiBL explained how to monitor the genetic diversity of populations. Second, Tomasz Rozwalka from PHR spoke about the motivation to start OHM breeding.

Breakout rooms and disscussions

In the second part of the programme, the following topics were discussed in smaller groups in order to gather the participants’ experiences on OHM notification, marketing and quality seed production, as well as their feedback on the OHMTrack tool, of which the demo version was presented in one of the breakout rooms.

The workshop served as a platform to share experiences and gain insights to further improve the implementation of OHM regulations, with a focus on traceability, notification and marketing, and ensuring quality seed production.

With regard to notification and marketing, the workshop raised questions about the scope of the OHM Regulation and how it applies to different communities and commercial activities. Participants discussed issues such as consumer trust, seed health standards and the legal status of seed controls. They also considered the potential of OHM to conserve local diversity and its relevance in the breeding of minor crops. Economic aspects were discussed, including the cost of OHM notification in certain countries and the viability of OHM as a business model, particularly in regions with extensive seed saving practices.

During the session on quality seed production, workshop participants shared the OHMs they were working on, such as lupin with anthracnose resistance, barley and wheat populations, and durum CCP. They also collected seed quality problems, such as diseases like bunt and smut, and seed purity problems, and solutions to these problems that are already in practice or under development.

Regarding traceability, participants discussed the features and potential of the OHMTrack tool and the type of users it can serve. They also explored the use of the FAO DOI system for seed lot registration. The need to define the level of detail to be entered into the system, and who should have access to what type of data, was also raised.

The discussions will continue in September.

You can watch the presentations from the workshop here.

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