Excellence in Breeding: Full Proposal 2017-2022
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Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10947/4449
Importance of genetic improvement: Over the past decades, genetic improvement has increased agricultural productivity, reduced the pressure on forests, changed the nutritional profile of crops, and made agricultural production more resilient to diseases, pests and droughts. Without genetic improvement, food prices would be substantially higher and more forest land would have been lost to agriculture (Evenson and Gollin, 2003; Stevenson et al., 2013). It is estimated that between 30-60% of the yield increases in farmers’ fields can be traced back to breeders changing the genetic make-up of crops, while the rest is due to improved agronomy aligned with better functioning markets and extension systems. Relevant to the developing world, stress tolerance breeding has also resulted in yield increases under conditions that are similar to farmers’ real conditions such as drought, low fertility, and waterlogging (Septiningsih et al., 2008; Weber et al., 2013), and averted losses or restored production after the emergence of new devastating diseases (Singh et al., 2011). Research into nutritional traits has resulted in the first bio-fortified crops being released and grown by farmers (Johnson et al., 2015). Examples in livestock include, in the developed world, the myostatin gene (Grobet et al., 1997) and increased milk yields in cattle and, in the developing world, the prolificacy Booroola genes in sheep (Nimbkar et al., 2005).