The contribution of international vegetable breeding to private seed companies in India
This article (PDF) in the Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution Journal explores the role of international agricultural research when research and development have shifted to the private sector. This is analyzed for vegetables in India, where a sophisticated private seed industry has developed, using data from 27 private companies and 9 public organizations. There is a focus on tomato and chili pepper, which are two of India’s most important vegetables, and the role of international germplasm received from the World Vegetable Center. Results show that as the role of the private sector in vegetable breeding increased, and with it the share of hybrids in the market, the role of international agricultural research shifted from the provision of ready-made varieties to the provision of specific resistance traits. Still, international germplasm continued to be used in varietal development with 14% and 13% of hybrid tomato seed and chili pepper seed sold in 2014 containing this germplasm in its pedigree. The authors estimate that over half a million farmers use such seed. It is concluded that for tomato and chili pepper, international breeding needs to focus on pre-breeding research, capacity strengthening of smaller seed companies, and the delivery of open-pollinated varieties for marginal environments. Additionally, collaboration and communication with private seed companies, including impact and information sharing, would help to inform strategic decision-making in breeding programs and to better tailor research toward impact.