RSS | Register/註冊 | Log in/登入
Site search:
Home>FFTC Document Database>Annual Reports>FFTC 2018 ANNUAL REPORT>Project 5: Quality assurance and ISTA accreditation for beginners
facebook分享

Collection of information & technologies
Seminars and workshops

Project 5: Quality assurance and ISTA accreditation for beginners

Location: Tsukuba, Japan
Date: June 18-22
Participating countries: 9 (Denmark, India, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, South Africa, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand)
Presentations: 4
Co-organizers: National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) / International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) / Taiwan Seed Improvement and Propagation Station (TSIPS)

ISTA stands for International Seed Testing Association. The association has a laboratory accreditation program which follows a procedure stating that in order for a general seed laboratory to be an ISTA certified lab, it must first become an ISTA member. A test has to be taken in order to evaluate the staff inspection skills and documents also have to be prepared to build an original quality assurance. It consists of Quality Manual, Standard Operating Procedures and Working Instructions. 

On June 19-21, FFTC joined forces with the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO), ISTA and the Taiwan Seed Improvement and Propagation Station in a workshop on “Quality Assurance and ISTA Accreditation for Beginners.” The workshop, which was held at the International Congress Center in Tsukuba, Japan, aims to disseminate information on the quality assurance and management skills provided by ISTA Accreditation Standard at the international level in order to enable ISTA certificate for seed testing laboratories in each country as required by the international trade of agricultural seeds. Part of the workshop was a visit to the NARO Seeding Management Center (ISTA Accredited seed testing laboratory) which acquired ISTA certification in order to learn how the species inspection laboratory which introduced the quality assurance and management technology is operated.
Twenty-three participants from nine countries attended the ISTA workshop. An overview of ISTA’s short history was first presented, together with the association’s objectives, articles and a list of their members all over the world, 98 of whom are in Europe, 67 in the Asian Pacific region, 10 members in Australia, 20 in Africa, 13 in South America and 20 members in USA/Canada. The participants were then introduced to the principles and key aspects of quality assurance by way of explaining the Quality Management System. This includes quality planning, quality control, quality assurance and quality improvement. Specific job descriptions of each laboratory staff was discussed to ensure that there is no ambiguity on who is responsible for what.

The participants were taught how to build quality documentation, after which the document control principles and the meaning of document control were explained. Another speaker introduced the calibration and testing materials management including the use of seed blowers, sampling equipment, balances, grinding mills, thermometers and temperature probes, pH meters, electro-conductivity meters, etc. Other speakers talked about the quality assurance equipment divider check, the requirements for consumables growing media and substrate specification checks, other quality control procedures, non-conforming work, corrective and preventive actions, internal audits, seed storage, rules for seed sampling, etc.

In the question and answer portion, some of the major issues raised were the following: the difference between the technical and quality manager; the importance of a deputy in case the senior staff is on leave; the importance of using the local language in filling documents; staff monitoring; planning an internal audit; initiating an investigation if the laboratory gets customer complaints, etc. It was also emphasized that the ISTA handbook is only a guideline but is not really the rule (with very few exceptions).

Aside from paper presentations, the ISTA speakers and the workshop participants, together with the staff of NARO and FFTC visited the Center for Seeds and Seedlings (NCSS) of NARO. NCSS has 13 foundation seed farms and three seed testing laboratories.

Major findings and recommendations

1. Refer to the ISTA website https://www.seedtest.org for seed sampling and testing information;
2. Focus on uniformity in seed testing to make the results more qualified and reliable to ensure the quality of seeds in the international trade;
3. Emphasize that while the rules for sampling and testing are produced by ISTA, some of the requirements are adopted by the laboratories and different countries have different government laws to comply with;
4. Provide a Method Validation Test (MVT) plan to ISTA’s Technical Committee (TCOM) for establishing a new testing method for both laboratory members and non-members;
5. Emphasize that one of the most important elements in the management of seed is people, so a quality management system should have a systematic approach in dealing with issues and problems;
6. Organize Quality Assurance workshops not just for beginners but also for advanced laboratories;
7. Conduct and host an international workshop in Taiwan through the joint efforts of TSIPS and NCSS;
8. Cooperate more closely with ISTA to get the new standard in time and to share new knowledge with the world;
9. Point out that accreditation is an important marketing tool and is a very efficient way to evaluate a laboratory’s testing performance;
10. Expect proficiency tests from ISTA to evaluate the technical performance of a seed testing laboratory in the region;
11. Share and disseminate the knowledge learned from the ISTA workshop and support similar training programs in the future. 

List of presentations

*Introduction to ISTA - Masatoshi Sato 
*Introduction to quality assurance
*Document control
*Corrective actions and non-conforming work
*Management review - Florina Palada 
*How to build a quality documentation
*Management equipment in general
*Substrate check
*Internal audits and how to prepare a checklist
*Internal quality control, monitoring of laboratory staff
*Storage sample
*Statistical aspects in seed testing - Rita Zecchinelli 
*Sampling - Eddie Goldschagg 


Twenty-three participants from nine countries (Denmark, India, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, South Africa, Taiwan, Tanzania and Thailand) attended the ISTA workshop. An overview of ISTA’s short history was first presented, together with the association’s objectives, articles and a list of their members all over the world.


Group photo of the workshop on “Quality Assurance and ISTA Accreditation for Beginners” at the International Congress Center (Epochal Tsukuba), Tsukuba, Japan. FFTC, NARO, the International Seed Testing Association and the Taiwan Seed Improvement and Propagation Station join forces to gather seed experts from various countries in the Asia Pacific Region to organize the said workshop.


From L to R: Dr. Hiroyuki Fujiwara, senior staff, Seed Inspection Division, National Center for Seeds and Seedlings (NCSS), NARO; Mr. Charles Wu, FFTC Administrative Assistant; Dr. Masatoshi Sato, Director, NCSS, NARO; FFTC Deputy Director Dr. Akira Hasebe and FFTC Assistant Researcher Ms. Jennifer Lii.