Plant Breeding Clubs

Learning how to breed plants for horizontal resistance is similar to acquiring computer literacy. Initially, it is somewhat intimidating, and it requires 'hands-on' experience. But, as this experience is gained, the new activity is quickly discovered to be easy, enjoyable, and useful. Plant breeding clubs will require a modicum of technical assistance from scientists, and they might even include scientists among their members. But, in general, these clubs would be made up of amateur breeders, and they would be totally free to breed any crop they choose, using any techniques they choose, to achieve any objectives they choose.

We can recognise two kinds of plant breeding club designed to promote horizontal resistance. A private club consists of a group of amateur breeders, such as farmers, hobby gardeners, environmentalists, or green activists. The second kind of club is primarily educational, and is the university club, which differs only in that it is made up of students, who are supported by their university. The possibility of secondary school clubs should also be considered.

Perhaps the most important feature of university clubs is that graduates can be given life-membership in their club, or clubs. Once they had returned to their family farms, or become agricultural scientists, these graduates would be entitled to propagating material of the potential new cultivars coming out of the club, for the rest of their lives. After one or two decades, there would be hundreds, perhaps thousands, of club alumni, organising new clubs, and testing new lines emerging from their university clubs, in the appropriate agro-ecosystems. These alumni would also be entitled to technical assistance from their old university club. These privileges would permit widespread farmer-

participation in research. And a number of competing universities would provide farmers with the widest possible choice of cultivars.

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