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Promoting Participatory Plant Breeding

A European support action developed a plant breeding programme designed for areas with low water availability. Local farmers are expected to benefit from implementation of the proposed strategies.
Promoting Participatory Plant Breeding
Conventional breeding has traditionally relied on the inherent adaptability of plants to produce high crop yields in certain growing environments and time periods. Increasing the production and profitability of crop cultivation through the development and enhanced adoption of improved varieties is a desirable outcome of plant breeding. However, international policies seem to promote an industrialised form of agriculture with certain financial and infrastructure requirements that are often absent in developing countries.

As a response, the Participatory Plant Breeding (PPB) programme of research methods was developed aiming to bring about plant genetic improvement within a species through the close collaboration of farmers with different scientific disciplines. The EU ‘Consultative workshop on participatory plant breeding’ (Conpab) project aimed to achieve just that: provide a Specific Support Action for developing strategies on PPB programmes in drought-prone areas.

The consortium organised a workshop with the participation of scientists from six countries from both southern Europe and northern Africa. The main objectives were to establish a network committed to PPB, disseminate methodologies and formulate strategies for the implementation of PPB in drought-prone areas. The education of PPB applicability was extended to Algeria through a regional workshop for policymakers and scientists and the emphasis was put on cultivation of wheat, barley, lentils, fava beans and maize.

The activities of the Conpab consortium provided information on the benefits and applications of PPB to farmers of areas with low water availability. Adoption of the proposed strategies is expected to enhance crop production and improve the competitiveness of the agriculture sector in these areas.

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