Please note that in August 2020, we and the other DLB partners launched a dedicated website: https://www.demandledbreeding.org/. This contains a wealth of DLB material. The page below remains as a service reflecting previous progress.
The Syngenta Foundation wants to maximize the benefits of international research and development for smallholders in developing countries. Improved crop varieties are a key focus of that R&D, and can greatly contribute to improving food security. However, technology solutions alone are not enough. Customer demand is a vital ingredient for successful businesses. This also applies to the breeding of improved crop varieties for smallholder farmers in developing countries. It is essential for food security that public programs generate more varieties that farmers and their customers want to use. Some government programs include farmer participation in variety development. However, typically the public sector focuses less on demand than private companies do. Program funders often support specific objectives matching the Millennium Development Goals or national policies, such as ‘improving drought tolerance of food staples in Sub-Saharan Africa’.
Funds go into, for example, the discovery of new genes, research to understand their function, and incorporation of key beneficial traits into the best local varieties. The emphasis is therefore frequently on technology rather than customer demand. ‘Demand-Led’ plant breeding puts customers at the heart of R&D. It involves users even before the scientific work starts. These ‘users’ are not only farmers but also stakeholders right along the value chain.
They influence how the crop is traded as:
Fresh food and feed
Demand-Led variety design to build Africa’s seed sector
The aim of the project onDemand led Plant Variety Design for Emerging Markets in Africa is to contribute to the transformation of African agriculture by enabling small scale farmers to better participate in local and regional markets, by increasing the availability and adoption of high performing plant varieties that meet market demands. We want to accelerate uptake and use of new crop varieties that meet farmer needs, consumer preferences, and market demand in Africa. These new varieties are designed to meet client needs by connecting plant breeders with crop value chains, seed distribution organizations, and encouraging enterprise and entrepreneurship in transforming agriculture in Africa.
Central to the transformation of agriculture in Africa is identifying market demand and developing new products with suitable characteristics to meet market requirements. Such demand can originate from producers, processors, and/or consumers. A more customer focussed approach to plant varietal design will affect public and private sector plant breeding programs. Decisions on determining the preferred traits for which to breed new varieties are paramount for success. Private sector companies have considerable experience worldwide in developing new crop varieties that fit the needs of customers. This experience in plant variety design can add value to the public as well as private sector breeding programs in emerging economies. As economies mature and markets expand, it can be expected that the private companies will also become increasingly involved in breeding new high performing varieties (HPVs) to meet customer requirements and market demand in emerging economies.
The University of Queensland is the administrator of the DLB project and provide specialist expertise and advice for the Demand-Led Breeding project.
DLB Phase 2 (2019-2022)
DLPB Project Phase 1: 2014-2018. The purpose of the project on “Demand-led Plant Variety Design” was to contribute to the transformation of African agriculture by enabling small scale farmers to participate more actively in local and regional markets, by increasing the availability and adoption of high performing plant varieties that meet market demands.
DLPB Project Phase 2: 2019-2022
Project goal: To contribute to the transformation of African agriculture by enabling small scale farmers to better participate in local and regional markets, by increasing the availability and adoption of high performing plant varieties that meet market demands.
Objective 1: Best practices in plant variety design: To enable plant breeders to develop new high performing varieties that meet customer requirements and market demand, by having increased access to and ability to implement start-of-the art knowledge, methodologies and best practices from the public and private sectors on demand-led plant variety design.
Objective 2: Education and training: To build capacity within plant breeding programs on demand-led variety design, through strengthening education and training programs for plant breeders, including through post-graduate curriculum development and new professional development programs on demand-led plant variety design for plant breeders in Africa.
Objective 3: Policy analysis and advocacy: To provide evidence to support new policy development and investments in plant breeding that will help generate more high performing varieties to meet emerging market demands, with emphasis on Africa.
The project aims to:
Encourage market-led approaches to determine breeding targets within crop improvement programs, especially in Africa. This will enable research leaders to have access to and interpretation of high-quality data about a range of business drivers and views of stakeholders. These business drivers and stakeholders will influence demand and determine the rate of uptake of new technologies, specifically new varieties of crops grown for food security and/or income generation.
Develop, disseminate and communicate about a set of new decision support tools that will enable R&D programs in Africa to obtain and evaluate information about market demands and use this information to set targets and product specifications within plant breeding programs;
Expand the use of innovative approaches to plant breeding that drive delivery of new seeds, uptake and purchasing of new varieties, technologies, and other inputs by smallholder farmers in Africa;
The project will seek to understand and learn from best practices in plant variety design globally, in the private sector, and in leading public research agencies with outstanding track records in uptake of their research outputs. The project will test the thesis that market-led product development by public and private sector research agencies will lead to increased availability and higher levels of uptake of new high performing crop varieties that enhance productivity and profitability of the target crops in selected countries of Africa.