Democratic plant breeding

Democratic or private plant breeding is the breeding undertaken either by individual entrepreneurs, or by small groups of amateur breeders working together in some form of plant breeding club. The entrepreneurs would be professionals who incorporate themselves as a private company, and they would raise development funds from appropriate foundations and donor agencies. The amateurs might be farmers, hobby gardeners, green activists, environmentalists, or university students. A steady increase in the amount of democratic plant breeding is inevitable as the knowledge of horizontal resistance spreads. Democratic plant breeding will be decentralised. Its essential feature is that it will involve large numbers of individuals who will be acting independently. This multiplicity of independent initiatives will establish a self-organising system. As the success and importance of these clubs becomes apparent, funding will become increasingly available from both foundations and governments.

Democratic plant breeding will ensure that there will be continuing improvement, that there will be a wide range of cultivars, and that there will be very real and effective competition among cultivars. The farmer's choice is based on yield, quality of crop product, resistance to locally important parasites, and both the ease and the cost of cultivation. His choice of cultivar in his cash crops (as opposed to crops for on-farm use, such as pastures and fodder) is also influenced by market demand and consumer preferences. The merchants, processors, and consumers are all part of the democracy, and they too contribute to the self-organisation of the system with their individual freedom of choice.

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