It seems like yesterday we started our SEED News magazine and we are celebrating its 100th edition. We had a clear idea what we wanted to offer for the players in the seed business, but we had no Idea how it would work, considering that we were from a different area that of journalism and publicity that have more technological knowledge to create a magazine. However, the objective of the magazine was clear and remains so today. The idea was to transform relevant scientific knowledge into technical articles, so, even a reader without greater academic preparation would take advantage of it. We have at the university a strong seed program and many Masters and PhD theses and dissertations are defended every year and the information from this kind of documents, however, were not coming to the agents of the seed sector. We realized that creating and organizing a magazine would help the seed sector.
After all, there were plenty of issues to be addressed; we choose the most suitable issues and they were edited in an appropriate way for readers to have interested and pleasure for reading it. It was the hardest part: work for many nights and collaboration of many colleagues and friends were required to move as expected, I mean, to circulate the magazine every two months without delays.
As a professor, I have used slides to illustrate the classes, because a picture saves a lot of words, and this tool was also used to illustrate issues in the magazine. However, slides had to be scanned and cleaned, which required some special equipment and knowledge, which fortunately were obtained with some effort. Currently, with the digital cameras, it is no longer necessary.
It is worth mentioning some important aspects of the magazine production process. In 1997 there was no printing plant prepared for printing the magazine in the city, which required making this type of work in a faraway city. Some of the disadvantages included logistics problems, because there are always last minute adjustments, which was impractical over long distances, especially at that time (currently, it would be a relatively easy task). Fortunately, a printing plant located at the same town of SEED News saw an opportunity for this kind of business, and the partnership continues until today.
In the magazine production process we have asked the point of view of some colleagues from the seed sector and possible collaborators. After the presentation of the magazine, one of my friends wanted to know what does a professional magazine means. I explained him that it was a magazine created as a small company, which depended on resources for printing, distribution and payment of staff and in the case of SEED News magazine would be published every two months, always on the first day of the month, except when the day fell on a Sunday or holiday. It is still done so, with respect to our subscribers and advertisers.
Another colleague scheduled an interview with the marketing manager of a large company in the seed sector. After thumbing through the first pages of the magazine, the colleague suggested advertisements in the magazine, and, as time was passing, more pressure was done in such a way that the marketing manager agreed to announce his company in the magazine, booking the back cover of the magazine for many years. The same marketing manager has become a great supporter of the magazine and he has offered useful suggestions such as, to keep up with a specific magazine, always evolving, to keep up to date, and diversify our advertising and keeping trade relations well-documented, among others.
Recently, we received an email from the same friend and he congratulated us on the development of the magazine and at the same time he asked to receive a copy of the 100th issue. Can you imagine the satisfaction of sending this magazine to the friend who accompanied us during all this time and even has the complete collection of SEED News magazine?
The first editions of the magazine were printed using photolithography; at this time, we received a notice from the Brazilian Inland Revenue that there was an order to us. We were informed that the photolithography was shipped from Argentina, and we had to pay US$5.00 tax. Regarding the money was little; the problem was to go to the city of Porto Alegre (250 km of SEED News headquarters) and we did not have the time for it. The alternative was to try to resolve the impasse by phone and after half an hour of conversation, the solution still seemed a little distant. Realizing the imminent failure; we said to the Revenue staff that the problem was not money, because the telephone call would cost us more than US$ 20.00 and in this case, we were already spending more money than the required tax. We spent a few more minutes on the phone and we carried on increasingly vehement arguments, and then an unexpected thing happened when the employer from Revenue asked us what address the photolithography should be sent at no charge. It was an unforgettable lesson, showing that perseverance and compelling arguments are strategies for overcoming adversity.
Dr. James Delouche has written 70 articles uninterrupted until 2009; when he decided to stop writing and sent us an article untitled “There is a time for everything “. He always closely followed the magazine articles and once he observed that we had split his article in two. We had to explain that his essay was so important that we decided to divide his writings into two editions for security reasons. After this episode, Delouche sent an additional article to prevent any problem. It is appropriate to clarify that our faithful collaborator has never been late with his column.
Many other situations, that were important in the history of the magazine, could be reported here, all very important to bring SEED News magazine up to here.
The strengths of the magazine
We do consider that the strength of the magazine is its specificity. Everybody who receives it knows that he will find topics on seeds such as the use of high quality seeds of improved varieties, detailing production techniques and post-harvest processes, quality evaluation, promoting biotechnology and seed treatment, among others. It is important to note that most issues remain updated and are kept for a long period of time.
Issues published in the SEED News are requested specifically to collaborators and with our 100 edition they added up 475 Brazilians and 71 foreigners. Typically, the texts are written by one author, though some collaborators have published several articles during this period.
The magazine does not work with annual agenda in order to keep updated issues. Thereby, issues are requested with no more than one month in advance and all authors, with rare exceptions, write their issues within the period of 30 days. It is another great strength!
The collaborators are originated mainly by contacts during seed events like the Brazilian Seed Congress (CBS), the Pan American Seed Seminar (FELAS), The Congress of the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA), The Congress of the International Seed Federation (ISF) and the Seed Congress of the Americas (SAA). Each of these events focus on specific subjects, such as CBS organized by ABRATES, which is scientific-technical and several topics discussed at the event have been the focus on of the magazine. The FELAS congress has been focused on public policy; the ISTA congress on the evaluation of seed test quality, the ISF congress on seed business, as well as the SAA, which is regional. Undeniably, these kinds of events always provide a lot of knowledge andinformation for the magazine.
In addition to these events, the SEED News also marks its presence in the events such as the CSM in RS and CSM in PR and field days promoted by seed companies, occasions that takes advantage of the opportunity to promote the use of seeds. Another strong point of the magazine is focused on those who uses, produces, sells, evaluates and develops cultivars. The search for new readers of the magazine is done by many ways, however the main one is done by ex students of the professors and collaborators of SEED News.
The magazine is divided into sections and articles to better serve its readers. Therefore, we have reviewed all issues until the last edition and we have found that aspects of seed production have been the most discussed theme; we have published 188 articles, followed by seed quality, with 135 articles, and post -harvest technology, with 77. It has been more than nine articles per edition providing knowledge and information for our readers.
Aspects such as seeding, seed formation and maturation, harvest, weed control, nutrition, irrigation, field inspection and performance of cultivars were the main subjects on seed production, while germination, vigor, purity, dormancy and seed health were the main factors discussed on the theme of the seed quality. In relation to post -harvest technologies, the main discussed points were: drying, cleaning and sorting, transport, aeration and storage of seeds – they have had a big technological development during the period, with the introduction of seeds artificially cooled by a dynamic process.
The other subjects that were highlighted are:
1. biotechnology, has been a subject of heated discussions, however, this story has a happy ending for the country;
2. legal platform with different approaches on the seed laws, plant protection, biosafety and patents;
3. creating cultivars with approaches aimed at value for cultivation and use, royalties collection and piracy;
4. seed usage , with field research to determine the rate of seed usage by farmers; and
5. seed treatment, showing great progress during the period between the artisanal treatment, performed at the farm level and industrial treatment, carried out on processing units, with dosage control and safety for operators and the environment.
Many of the different editions of the magazine talked about specific species in commercial crops and soybeans received the most attention, with 137 articles- It is due to the importance of the crop for the country, it is a crop with more acreage, more than 27 million hectares planted in the 2012/13 agricultural season. Soybean seeds are not easy to produce and to maintain their quality, which is why many papers have been published. Another aspect was the great changes occurred after adoption of early varieties, to allow winter maize cultivation in the same field of soybeans. This change has caused some companies in soybean breeding to increase their participation in the seed business, while others decreased, i.e. in the order of two digits. The soybean seed business in the country involves more than one billion dollar.
Crops such as rice, corn, fodder, vegetables, wheat, cotton and sorghum were also discussed in the magazine. The choice of species takes into account their economic and social importance. Potato was the only important species for human consumption, which received little attention from the magazine, due to our readers profile.
The evolution of the magazine
There is a consensus on the need to follow trends, customs and values, and for a company they are important to keep the business growing. The first editions of the SEED News were published only in Portuguese; however, in 2000, we realized that was necessary to also offer it in Spanish language version. Four years later, in 2004, the magazine edition in English was also offered. Currently, the magazine is published in Spanish in Bolivia and distributed to Spanish-speaking countries, while the English version is available on the online store of the magazine.
Other contributing factors to the development of the magazine included the creation of a website (www.seednews.inf.br), in 2004, providing an online version of the magazine. It contains the central issue, enquiries and green line. It was a great initiative where there are hundreds daily visitors on our website. In addition, subscription are also possible using the site.
In 2012, we followed the online shopping trends creating a virtual store (store.seednews.inf.br), where the readers can order a new subscription or renew their subscription. It does not need a bank payment slip every time clients want to subscribe or renew the subscription. The store also offers back issues of the magazine, offers books (paid and free) and allows other types of payment.
From Zero to One Hundred
We are not “talking” about speed that in many situations is important, but we would like to say that 17 years have passed since SEED News was edited for the first time. The magazine is like a son to his owner, and it grew up speaking, even in other languages, such as English and Spanish. The magazine goes by its own and by its form, reaching all continents.
Over the years, writers from many countries have contributed to the magazine. In addition, researchers and professionals in the seed sector and from the century-old school of Agronomy “Eliseu Maciel” of the UFPel have also gave its owner support and opportunities.
I would like to talk about what happened in this period of time: we were dependent on few cultivars produced by public enterprises, but farming system has changed in the past years and the private sector became the protagonist of new productive opportunities with a large supply of seeds more productive cultivars and quality assured, that the farmer has purchased and used.
The media and the SEED News magazine helped spread information about the importance of quality seed in agriculture and all past issues of the magazine have always informed the seed consumers that productive areas will achieve nothing without seeds of high quality.
I will take the zero edition as an example, which was talking about “Plant Breeders Rights” (because without them, companies would not invest in research programs for obtaining new varieties), with its cover showing a sunset image, under a rice seed production area. Without self promotion, this illustration marked this communication vehicle, since from the beginning showed the reason of its life. The magazine encouraged the use of high quality seed, and the development of research, new production techniques, becoming a guide for producer and for entrepreneurs in the seed sector. In using simple and accessible language the magazine took science to all corners of the world.
To make a synthesis of one hundred editions of the magazine requires great sensitivity, but it is possible to cite some facts. In 1998, people were already talking about: “the soybean growing area is increasing,” and a super harvest was expected in the same year. The agricultural machines were constantly adapted to new realities and market demands, and transgenic cultivars began to increase usage in various regions. Transgenic cultivar has also consolidated itself “we are in a new era”, although people were scared of genetically modified organisms, especially those who did not have the technology. All people have their own opinion of GMO, against or not, although some people did not even know what they were talking about. Lay people or not, they were always protesting, and still do. Concomitant with the consolidation of the magazine, the seed trade became increasingly important part of the production, and seed became one of the important crop production input.
There is no doubt that everything mentioned before and all themes and issues discussed during all editions of SEED News’ magazine contributed decisively to the achievement of “seed business” which was consolidated as a whole, showing the importance of seed quality in agriculture.