Public-Private Partnerships for Crop Breeding


Many crops lack private-sector investment in the breeding and development of improved varieties. This is particularly the case for crops that serve ‘marginal’ markets, such as developing countries and semi-commercial farmers. Public-sector breeders can help bridge this gap. However, they are often unable to address market demand fully and deliver improved genetics sustainably at scale.

Our “Public-Private Partnerships for Crop Breeding” program has two main aims. Firstly, we encourage the two sectors to work closer together. This involves sharing know-how and technologies and bringing new value-adding varieties to farmers. Secondly, we explore approaches to raising income that the public sector can reinvest in breeding and early seed production, both at the international (CGIAR) and national (NARS) levels. We have developed some exemplary PPPs to demonstrate the advantage of sharing germplasm and know-how. We help the partners explore replicable and mutually remunerative approaches to sharing the value of new products.


Since 2013, the Syngenta Foundation has partnered with CIMMYT and Syngenta in a unique Public-Private Partnership (PPP). Its aim is to develop drought-tolerant, low-cost hybrid maize varieties for low-rainfall areas of South Asia. This partnership integrates African drought-tolerance traits from CIMMYT’s germplasm collection into elite parental lines from Syngenta. We are licensing the resulting affordable, accessible, Asian (AAA) triple-cross varieties to small, local seed producers. These companies will ensure seed multiplication and availability to farmers in drought-prone areas of South Asia.

International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP)

IWYP is a novel funding and coordination partnership. It brings together research funders, international aid agencies, foundations, companies, and major wheat research organizations. Together, they aim to help raise wheat’s yield potential by up to 50% over the next 20 years. Increasing yield is one of the key aims of the Wheat Initiative. Our role in this partnership is to develop appropriate models for value sharing and IP transfer between public and private partners.

Demand-Led Breeding

For DLB materials, please use 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.

Better Potatoes for Farmers in the Tropics

Most potato varieties that are preferred by consumers and processors - for instance, those serving as a basis for crisps, chips or mash – are bred for temperate regions in the ‘global North’. They perform poorly under subtropical and tropical conditions with higher minimum temperatures and greater disease pressure. However, the crop’s high yield potential, input use efficiency, and readily consumable products make potato an interesting option for smallholders worldwide.