Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Crop Genetic Resources: The Role of the Public Sector in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Detlef Virchow


Throughout the centuries, farmers have developed crop seeds from the rich genetic diversity of naturally occurring species. Only for the past two centuries has the development of varieties been based on scientific research. And it is only since the early twentieth century that a true commercial production of crop seeds has started to replace farmers’ selection work. Although the global exchange of the crop genetic resources (CGR), global public research and development of improved varieties are common practices, globalization is becoming increasingly important for the breeding sector. Privatization and internationally acting multinational breeding companies are playing an increasing role and, for instance in biotechnology, are taking over the lead in the research, development and production of improved seed. Increased privatization through globalization leads to some changes, which raise new policy issues to be analyzed: (1) an increasing rate of adoption of improved varieties is taking place on a worldwide basis, and it is welcomed — seen from the point of view of the increase in agricultural production. However, the adoption inevitably leads to a decline in CGR. The political will to conserve CGR has been discussed in several international fora and was explicitly documented in the “Leipzig Declaration” as an outcome of the International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources, held in Leipzig, Germany, in June 1996 (FAO, 1996a). Therefore, new conservation concepts have to be developed, and old ones improved.


Public Sector Genetic Resource Plant Genetic Resource Breeding Activity TRIPs Agreement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  • Detlef Virchow

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