, Volume 136, Issue 1, pp 21-35

Participatory plant breeding research: Opportunities and challenges for the international crop improvement system

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This paper describes the current state of international plant breeding research and explains why the centralized global approach to germplasm improvement that was so successful in the past is today being transformed by the incorporation of decentralized local breeding methods designed to better incorporate the perspective of end users into the varietal development process. It describes international breeding efforts for major crops and identifies factors that have contributed to the success of the international breeding system; discusses shortcomings of the global approach to plant breeding and explains why future successes will depend critically on researchers' ability to incorporate the knowledge and preferences of technology users; reviews a number of farmer participatory research methods that are currently being tested by plant breeding programs throughout the developing world; describes synergies that can potentially be achieved by linking centralized global and decentralized local breeding models; and discusses technical, economic, and institutional challenges that will have to be overcome to integrate end user-based participatory approaches into the international plant breeding system.

This revised version was published online in August 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.