Agricultural biotechnology and smallholder farmers in developing countries

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Abstract or Summary

Agricultural biotechnology holds much potential to contribute towards crop productivity gains and crop improvement for smallholder farmers in developing countries. Over 14 million smallholder farmers are already benefiting from biotech crops such as cotton and maize in China, India and other Asian, African and Central/South American countries. Molecular breeding can accelerate crop improvement timescales and enable greater use of diversity of gene sources. Little impact has been realized to date with fruits and vegetables because of development timescales for molecular breeding and development and regulatory costs and political considerations facing biotech crops in many countries. Constraints to the development and adoption of technology-based solutions to reduce yield gaps need to be overcome. Full integration with broader commercial considerations such as farmer access to seed distribution systems that facilitate dissemination of improved varieties and functioning markets for produce are critical for the benefits of agricultural biotechnology to be fully realized by smallholders. Public–private partnerships offer opportunities to catalyze new approaches and investment while accelerating integrated research and development and commercial supply chain-based solutions.

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