Tone WingeThe book, entitled Farmers and Plant Breeding: Current Approaches and Perspectives, published by Routledge this fall, is edited by FNI Senior Research Fellow Tone Winge together with professor Ola Westengen of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). It gives an overview of a wide range of collaborative breeding programmes from different parts of the world. On-the-ground-cases are linked to international context, such as the Plant Treaty, trade agreements, and related intellectual property rights (IPR) regimes, and to regional and local condtions, such as national seed policies and laws.

What is participatory plant breeding? Short video

Key to adaptation

Photo: RoutledgeAn important backdrop for the book is the recognition that while traditional breeder-directed breeding programs have been effective at developing crop varieties for farming systems that are fairly homogenous, they have been far less effective in areas where farming is more risk-prone and complex. As is stated by the EU-funded, international research program Diversifood, “the effects [of participatory plant breeding] on both biodiversity and crop production are impressive.”

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The new book documents these impacts, pointing to increased yields, farmers’ empowerment throughout the innovation and development processes, and to the maintenance of crop genetic diversity and adaptation to climate change.

Case studies include collaborative sorghum and pearl millet breeding for water-stressed environments in West Africa, participatory rice breeding for intensive rice farming in the Mekong Delta, and evolutionary participatory quinoa breeding for organic agriculture in North America.

Broad relevance

The book will be launched in Rome in November, during a side-event to the Plant Treaty’s 8th Session of the Governing Body.

According to experts in the field, the book is relevant to a wide range of readers, including practitioners with experience in plant breeding and crop genetic resources, readers with a broader interest in agriculture and development, as well as students of international cooperation and sustainable development.

This timely and remarkable book focuses on collaborations between farmers and plant breeders across all types of agroecosystems, and offers real hope for widespread redesign and transformation, sais Professor of Environment and Society at the University of Essex, Jules Pretty.

‘This book will be of interest not only to researchers working directly on crop improvement, but also to policy makers and other professionals involved in food and nutritional security’, said Segenet Kelemu of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Kenya.

More about the book