Organic Plant Breeding

The success of organic agriculture depends on the success of organic farmers. And that success begins with seed. Yet we have only seen a minor investment in organic plant breeding compared to other sectors of seed research. Seed is the critical first link in the food production chain, a fundamental input – and living, natural resource – that demands careful management and improvement. Our vision is an organic food industry based on a foundation of organic seed.

 

Our research embraces the participatory plant breeding model. In this model, organic farmers work collaboratively with university, non-profit, and private industry plant breeders to breed and improve seed for organic farms. Participatory breeding empowers farmers to take a lead role in seed development by combining their practical experience with the technical expertise of formal plant breeders. This decentralized model of breeding is resulting in more high-quality organic seed, and more farmers gaining skills to develop their own varieties.

 

In many ways organic plant breeding is in its infancy. With further multi-year investments we will see more varieties that are adapted to a wider range of regions and organic farming needs with enhanced flavor and nutrition. Through our participatory research, we have already developed a number of new varieties that are adapted to organic farms (see  Breeding Projects).

 

 

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“Seeds are all about the next generation, which is exactly what organic is about. The work of OSA is crucial to the future of food and life.”

 

Atina Diffley

Organic Farming Works

Farmington, Minnesota