Demand-led variety development strategy
A demand-led variety development strategy is designed for each new variety and includes all the components of “what”, “why”, “who” “when” and “how”. The strategy contains a stage plan for line progression decisions, together with a set of development activities and an investment plan for delivery. Monitoring, evaluation and learning (M&E&L) is an integral part of the project delivery plan. A set of key performance indicators (KPIs) are included in the strategy as targets for evaluation. This strategy and its components are used as the baseline for all M&E&L work.
The quality of the strategy is determined by:
Value Proposition for Demand-led variety development strategy
Demand-led breeding takes an integrated approach to new variety development. Does it require a comprehensive analysis of Who are the targeted clients? What are their needs and how may these change? What are the technical and regulatory elements of plant breeding? How long will the development plan take? How will the new variety reach targeted clients and will their requirements be satisfied?
Success is measured by satisfying the demand encapsulated in the product profile and by feedback from farmers and other clients in the value chain on product performance and variety adoption. This requires a comprehensive strategy for Delivery of new variety design and variety creation; registration and release; client awareness building; seed distribution to farmers; performance and adoption monitoring.
Development stage plan
Demand-led breeding requires a stage plan to be created with transparent time points and timelines for data review and germplasm progression decisions that involves participation of key clients in the value chain. This helps to maintain clients’ commitment to new designs, enables joint problem solving, manages expectations, and stimulates demand for the new varieties.
Demand-led breeding creates more complexity due to a broader range of client involvement, trait targets, and performance testing. Therefore, to counteract potential delays, greater emphasis is placed on breeders developing professional planning skills, understanding of critical paths, and risk mitigation strategies.
Demand-led breeding includes but goes beyond farmer participatory breeding. It puts more emphasis on regularly consulting and understanding the needs and preferences of all clients and stakeholders in a crop value chain. This involves seeking information from farmers and consumers in both rural and urban areas, through participatory appraisal methods.
Consultation is a continuous requirement throughout the whole variety development process, registration, and launch so that a new variety not only supports farmers’ requirements for crop productivity and sufficient food for home consumption but also ensures production surpluses can enter markets. A development stage plan that includes developing shared ideas and joint decision making with stakeholders in the value chain is critical for success.
Variety design and bench-marking
More emphasis is placed on systematic, quantitative assessment of varietal characteristics and creating product profiles with benchmarks for varietal performance and line progression. Consumer demanded traits are given more importance. Variety design requires prioritization amongst the many traits desired by farmers, processors, seed distributors, transporters, retailers, and consumers.
Early contact with registration officials are required at the variety design phase, well before a potential new variety is ready to enter official registration trials. Thus, at an early stage, there is need to validate designs, agree on standards for consumer-based traits, and to create interest in the new variety by officials, as this may accelerate the timelines to delivery of the demand-led varieties.
Benefits and business cases for investment
The greater emphasis is placed on analyzing and creating compelling business cases for new variety development by identifying and communicating the full breadth of the quantitative and qualitative economic, social and environmental benefits for clients and stakeholders that are likely to come from investing in demand-led plant breeding programs.