BUILDING GOOD PUBLIC RELATION THROUGH EDUCATION 

1.      The Inspector can be infinitely more effective if he builds up his programme on good public relations. He has specific powers under the Act, but those powers are of little value unless he has the support and understanding of seed sellers, seed buyers and his colleagues in the Department of Agriculture. 

2.      * “ To obtain such cooperation, considerable educational work is involved on the part of all seed law enforcement officials, particularly, Inspectors. The Inspector must first of all have at least the qualifications of an Inspector as set forth in the Rules. A little knowledge may be a dangerous thing, therefore, the Inspector should never be satisfied with the minimum amount of knowledge needed to get by. He should continually add to his knowledge of seed and the seed industry in order to do his job most efficiently. any attempt to impress the public with his authority, particularly without sufficient knowledge to support his actions, will be more detrimental than helpful.” 

3.      * “Weighing the relative importance of violations is important. Strong statements and strong action on relatively minor violations regarding labeling where the harm to the purchaser is practically nil detract from enforcement of the law on serious violations. This is not to say that the minor violations should be overlooked. They, however, should be called to the attention of the violator in a helpful or educational manner and not as through the violations were a criminal offence. If technical violations continue to occur due to negligence on the part of the person previously informed of the labeling requirements, stop sale order should then be issued on the seed involved.” 

4.      * “In all dealings with the public, we must remember that we are, after all, public servants. The law is for the protection of the public. If we discharge our responsibilities fairly and firmly we should do the greatest good for the greatest number.” 

5.      It is inconceivable that all seed will ever be 100 percent correctly labeled. Our goal, therefore, is to reduce the percentage of falsely labeled seed to the lowest possible percentage for the protection of the farmer or purchaser. Education and cooperation form the backbone of enforcement. Neither can succeed if public relation is forgotten. 

6.      A start toward good public relation should be made with an effective educational effort. When people know what is expected of them and why, the enforcement aspects under the Act can be made easy. 

7.   What the public should know ?

  1. Seed seller

i.          the advantage to him of selling truthfully labeled seed;

ii.                 information on the provisions of the Act and the Rules;

iii.               a clear understanding about which seed need to be labeled and how and the minimum limits of germination and purity; 

* Manual for Seed Inspectors, Association of American Seed Control Officials, September1959. 

iv.                where and how to get seed tested ?

v.                   how to interpret laboratory results ?

vi.                how to transfer laboratory information to the label ?

vii.              what is required to produce, process, store and market good seed ?

viii.           how to decide if seed is fit for seeding purpose ?

ix.                what is to be done with seed lots that are unfit for seeding ?

x.                   obligation for following-up testing after a period of storage;

xi.                how to test one’s own seeds ? and

xii.              how to apply for having seed certified and how certified seed differs from merely labeled seed ?

  1. Selected extension staff members from districts and blocks

i.          general provisions of the Act and the Rules;

ii.                 what seeds men need to do in order to comply with the Act ?

iii.               where to get seeds tested ?

iv.                what the farmers should know about the seed label ?

v.                   who sells tested seed ?

vi.                the difference between certified seed and merely labeled seed ? and

vii.              where labeled and certified seed is available ?

  1. Cultivator

i.          why tested and labeled seed is better for him ?

ii.                 what information the label contains ?

iii.               who sells tested and labeled seed ?

iv.                where he may have his own seed tested ?

v.                   what additional assurances are provided with certified seed ? and

vi.                who sells certified seed ?

8.      How to develop a good educational programme ?

  1. The Chief Seed Inspector and the other Inspectors associated with him, should be the most knowledgeable persons in the State about the Act. Obviously, any educational effort must flow from them. The method used will often differ depending upon the group involved, their present understanding and the resources available. The following suggestions may be useful to the Inspectors as they develop strong educational programmes.
  1. Educating seed sellers

The Inspector needs to assume major responsibility for this task. He could utilise the offices of the National Seeds Corporation Limited and the seed certification agency at the state level to help ensure that all certified seed growers and seed producers are kept fully informed of all aspects of the Act. He should also use other wings of the extension service, seed associations and the agricultural universities to reach all seeds men and accomplish the following :

i.          state and district level meetings organised by the state government and/or by seed associations which would be extremely useful in providing information for seeds men;

ii.                 individual visits to seeds men as outlines earlier;

iii.               prepare publications that will be used by the Inspector and can be made available to seeds men on subjects such as :

Ø       “ How to comply with the Act”

Ø       “ Results of seed inspection”

Ø       “ Questions and answers about the Act”

iv.                the seed law enforcement staff should build a mailing list of possible seeds men and seed merchants, so that publications, letters and special news releases could be sent directly to them; and

v.                   tours and field days to visit the seed testing laboratory and post-season growing-out trials of seeds that have been sampled in the inspection programme could be highly informative, convincing and useful.

  1. Educating members of extension staff

The Inspector should be sure that other departmental staff members are well informed. They can supplement the Inspector’s educational effort with seeds men and carry major responsibility for educating the cultivator. Training opportunities could include:

i.          workshops conducted by Inspectors, Analysts and certification agency personnel;

ii.                 visits to the laboratory, the certification agency and seeds men as a group; and

iii.               attending meetings for seeds men whenever possible.

  1. Educating the cultivator

The best trained extension personnel and the existing extension system must carry the major load for educating the cultivators. Inspectors and the certification agency personnel can guide and serve as specialists for the following.

i.          special meetings, field days and training programmes for cultivators;

ii.                 preparation of posters and publications on the importance of good seed and how to identify it;

iii.               use existing news media such as newspapers, radio and television for disseminating general information on tested and labeled seed and on certified seed; and

iv.                conduct seed surveys and use their results to show to farmers why and how the seed they sow should be improved.

9.      Education essential to success

Education is the essential ingredient in a seed law enforcement programme. With it an effective seed law enforcement programme can be developed. Without it, the Act will exist only on paper. By carefully selecting the groups to be trained and by systematically carrying out the kind of educational programme that has been outlined, the Inspector will be regarded as a friend and a guide and better seed will be the result.

10.  Inspectors self analysis   

Assuming no one doubts the value of good public relations and the need for a strong educational effort, the Inspector must also look at himself. Often very insignificant incidents or actions make a significant difference in the impact on the public. In the manual for Seed Inspectors, 1959 prepared by the Association of American Seed Control Officials, an excellent check list is included so that Inspectors could rate themselves. The list includes the following:

  1. Do you answer the telephone calls cordially ?
  1. Do you write friendly letters ?
  1. Is your personal appearance and your mode of transportation such as not to detract from your position ?
  1. Do you greet people properly when entering their establishment ?
  1. Do you make your presence known to owner or manager of the business ?
  1. Do you request for assistance of dealers in your inspection work when it is most convenient ?
  1. Do you have an identification card to prove your authority to sample the seed, inspect records, etc. ?
  1. Do you thank people who freely cooperate and assist you in your work ?
  1. Do you answer questions raised by seeds men on the seed law or find the answer for them as soon as possible ?
  1. Do you comply as soon as possible with all requests received from seeds men directly or through your headquarters office for special assistance on urgent problems ?
  1. Do you keep abreast of new developments in the seed trade and know the reasons for new regulations ?
  1. Do you follow up on actions requested of seeds men to see that they are completed ?
  1. Do you analyze complaints on your work immediately and revise procedures to eliminate future complaints ?

11.  Each person must be his own judge on these points. However, it should be    remembered that the people also judge and they may not be very charitable.