SA Cultivar & Technology Agency (SACTA) came into existence with the purpose of addressing a dilemma that developed over the years regarding the lack of new technology for self- or open-pollinated grain and oilseed crops in South Africa. The relevant crops are: Wheat, Barley, Soya Beans and some Canola cultivars. Although farmers have the fullest right to hold back seeds from these self-pollinated crops for future planting, this practice reduces the quantity of new seed sold and it is thus not worthwhile for seed companies to invest in the breeding and technology of these crops. Without the latest seed technology, it is impossible for South African producers to compete against their international counterparts, who make use of the best seeds and latest technologies available. With no investment in the development of self-pollinated seeds there will be no progress – genetic gain and local production will stagnate or decline. Consequently, South Africa will need to import more of these grains, putting our food security at risk. In addition, the quality (baking worth) of imported grains is not always on par with South African standards. Breeders’ Rights are protected worldwide by means of the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act, patents and contract law. According the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act, IP holders have the right to license and charge a reasonable fee. On the other hand, South African producers have the right to retain grain to use as seed.
How will it work in South Africa
In South Africa, the Marketing of Agricultural Products Act (Act 47 of1996) provides for the application of a statutory levy. This gives substance to a levy/royalty within a legal framework and has the following benefits: • It is a self-regulating system • all grain of a specific crop is levied at the first point of sale • all growers pay the same levy • farmers and breeders share the risk • the royalty income is directly linked to the variety’s level of performance • should farmer income be low due to drought etc., levies are also lower SACTA has the support of farmers and it collects the levy from them. The agency is a separate body and a legitimate central institution which administers the breeding levies for all self-pollinated grain and oilseed crops. SACTA is aligned with all role industry players who are knowledgeable regarding breeding and technology and the competitiveness of our farmers. The SACTA breeding & technology system will compensate seed breeding companies according to their market share. In the past, breeding was funded per project and not necessarily on performance. The new system aims to rectify the vicious circle caused by farm-saved seed and is in line with the new Plant Breeders Bill. SACTA is not just another commodity trust. It is not linked to a specific commodity and addresses ONLY the need to improve the breeding of self-pollinated grain and oilseed crops. SACTA believes that all cultivars should offer a healthy balance between yield and quality, so that all parties in the value chain benefit. The system is driven by the free market, dictated by demand.
SACTA Transformation and Administration
SACTA acknowledges the importance of transformation in the South African agricultural landscape and will make an active contribution towards it by using 20% of all distributable funds for transformation. Breeding companies have the responsibility to apply such funds according to the NAMC guidelines for transformation with annual reporting on progress made towards transformational business plans. A focus on capacity building within the breeding and seed industry will bring forth breeders, agronomists and seed producers for the future. Added to the existing levies of the relevant trusts, this joint pool of funds will have significant benefits for agricultural transformation in South Africa. The administration of SACTA is handled by L&L Agricultural Services – Trust and Company Administrators. The representative SACTA Board of Directors is committed to ensure food security through the development of new genetics and technology for open-pollinated crops.