Vegetables and Small Private-Sector Interests

Poor farmers in developing countries need access to affordable high-quality seed of improved crop varieties to improve their incomes and reduce malnutrition. Vegetables are vital for balanced nutrition, particularly in Africa, where production has been almost static for decades, per capita consumption is very low and malnutrition is rife. Vegetables produce much greater income than staples and farmers are willing to pay substantial amounts for good seed of open-pollinated varieties they can later reproduce themselves. Small local seed firms have a competitive advantage over multinationals in supplying niche markets provided by large numbers of smallholder farmers and in dealing with complex seed distribution chains, but they need public-sector research support. AVRDC — The World Vegetable Center’s vegetable breeding research and the business expertise of small private seed companies are delivering improved varieties to smallholder farmers in developing countries where there is limited public-sector plant breeding capacity. Over the last ten years AVRDC has worked closely to build partnerships with national agricultural research services and local seed companies in Tanzania to create effective national seed systems and to breed and widely distribute a series of improved tomato varieties, revolutionising East African tomato production and increasing farmer incomes by an average of 40%. Similar close cooperation is successfully commercialising improved varieties of Africa’s highly nutritious indigenous vegetables — previously ignored as food for the poor. International research cooperation and public–private partnerships also are increasingly important to vegetable industries in Australasia and the Pacific as national agricultural funding priorities change, diseases become more internationalised, and quarantine alone is insufficient insurance against transmission.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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