Advantages for the local farmers

Farmer-participation in research. Institutional plant breeding has become so esoteric that farmers cannot understand it. Nor can they participate in it. Farmers should be encouraged to form their own clubs, assisted, no doubt, by some of their children who have graduated from a university that had plant breeding clubs. Equally, a university club might do well to instruct a few farmer-members who would themselves provide practical input.

Greatly increased breeding activity. One of the chief criticisms of institutional and corporate plant breeding is that their work is so expensive, and that they are so specialised, and so technical, that their total breeding output is severely limited. Hence the need for the 'big space and high profile' of vertical resistance breeding. A multiplicity of plant breeding clubs would provide a greatly increased amount of plant breeding.

Constructive competition between many breeding clubs. If there were many plant breeding clubs, operated both by universities and farmers themselves, there would be constructive competition that would lead to an abundance of competing cultivars with gradually improving horizontal resistance to all locally important pests and diseases, as well as improving yield, quality of crop product, and agronomic suitability. This competition would continue until a ceiling was reached, when little further progress would be possible.

Cultivars suited to local agro-ecosystem. These competing cultivars would all be the result of on-site selection in the local agro-ecosystem. They would be well balanced with all the variables in that agro-ecosystem.

Wide choice of new cultivars. An abundance of good cultivars would give both farmers and consumers a wide choice of cultivars.

Freedom from the hazards, labour, and cost of pesticides. Once adequate horizontal resistance had been accumulated, farmers would be freed from the environmental and human hazards, as well as the labour and costs of applying crop protection chemicals.

Reduction of crop losses. As horizontal resistance accumulated, the crop losses from pests and diseases would decline.

Reduction of biological anarchy. As horizontal resistance accumulated, the biological anarchy that was induced by crop protection chemicals would decline, as biological control agents returned and increased in numbers.

Cumulative crop improvement. Because a good horizontally resistant cultivar need never be replaced, except with a better cultivar, breeding for horizontal resistance is cumulative and progressive. The overall effect of plant breeding clubs, therefore, would be a cumulative crop improvement.

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