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Agronomist with Tablet

Principles of Demand-led Plant Variety Design

There are 10 key points underlying the Demand-led approaches

  • Understanding clients, which is central to demand-led variety design and increasing adoption of new varieties: Clarity is required on: Who are the clients? What factors influence their buying decisions? What are the needs, preferences, and problems of each client?

  • Farmer adoption: Demand-led approaches should increase the likelihood of new varieties being adopted by farmers.

  • Value chains: Demand-led approaches build on and go beyond farmer participatory breeding. They include consultations not only with farmers but with all clients and stakeholders along the whole crop value chain.

  • Urban and rural consumers: Breeders must consider needs and preferences of consumers living in both rural and urban environments. Rapid (rural and urban) appraisals can be extended to gathering information not only from farmers but also from consumers and clients who live in towns and cities.  


  • Markets and client segmentation: Breeders need to understand markets and client segmentation to be able to prioritize their breeding targets.


  • Market research and intelligence gathering:  Market research at the start of a breeding program needs to be complemented with continuing consultations with stakeholders at key decision points along with the development stage plan from new variety design to post-market release.  


  • Breeding entrepreneurship: This can contribute to economic growth, better livelihoods for smallholder farmers and increased food security. Improved varieties can change lives.


  • Market creation: To maximize market creation and nurture innovation, a balance is required between using demand-led approaches and enabling new technologies to drive innovations. Both approaches have value and complement one another.


  • Role of the plant breeder:  Plant breeders do much more than making crosses and leading selection programs. A breeder must also be an integrator of inputs and be able to assimilate information and incorporate a broad range of views, including those of non-technical experts. This requires assimilating data, looking at its implications, and making decisions based on information from diverse areas such as agricultural economics, markets, and market research as well as the core scientific functions for breeding.


  • Breeding experience: Demand-led approaches retain emphasis and put a value on the breeders’ eyes and experience in assessing germplasm.

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