Increasing Plant Breeding Efficiency through Evolutionary-Participatory Programs
Pp. 17-38 (22)
One fundamental problem in plant breeding is the relationships between
selection and target environments. Selection theory shows that response to selection
(genetic gains) depends on this relationship because of genotype x environment
interactions. Therefore, response to selection can be increased by making the selection
environment as similar as possible to the target environment (decentralized breeding).
However, this does not yet guarantee farmers’ acceptance of the new variety, which we
argue is a more correct way of measuring plant breeding efficiency than variety release
as usually done by public breeding programs. Using selection theory, the chapter shows
that the probability that a new variety is accepted by farmers, thus impacting their
livelihood, increases by selecting in the target environment (decentralized selection) in
collaboration with farmers. Decentralized-participatory plant breeding also increases
agrobiodiversity and makes plant breeding more cost-effective. The proclaimed
efficiency of private breeding program, which can claim a wide farmers’ adoption, is
actually driven by a seed market monopoly, which severely limits farmers’ choice of
which seed to buy. However, the weak point of decentralized-participatory plant
breeding is the unreliability and unpredictability of Institutional participation.
Evolutionary-participatory plant breeding may overcome the limitations of
participatory plant breeding, because farmers can handle evolutionary populations
independently from Institution, yet without excluding them from participating. Because
in evolutionary-participatory plant breeding the unit of selection becomes the
individual plant rather than a plot, a much higher selection intensity is possible, thus
increasing even further the efficiency.
Biodiversity, Climate change, Efficiency, Evolutionary plant
breeding, Genetic gains, Genomic selection, Genotype x environment interaction,
Human health, Participation, Response to selection, Seed.
Consultant, Rete Semi Rurali, Scandicci, Firenze, Italy