The start of the food chain and other chains of consumption is the seed. Traditionally, it tends to be forgotten and people start to talk about the plant and the product obtained, but before that there is an indispensable phase that involves the seed, the only indispensable input for the sustenance of the chain of consumption as we understand it, secure and diverse.
The seed has a relevant value that is still not given enough significance, not only for farmers, but especially for consumers and for society in general.
Plant breeding or improvement is a highly technological activity of great economic importance, based on the research and development of new plant varieties. They respond to end consumer demands and ensure the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of the entire food chain and of industrial crops.
Between the 1960’s and the year 2000, there were spectacular increases in all crops, which grew between 1% and 3% annually. This means, for example, that in the case of grains, productivity increased during this period between 100% and 200%, depending on the crops. Other essential crops, like potatoes, have increased almost 80% (Pingali&Rajaram. World wheat facts and trends. 1999. CIMMYT Institute. Mexico DF). Some crops, such as tomato, have increased up to 1,000%.
About 40% of this increase in productivity corresponds to the improvement of plant varieties (Responding to the challenges of a changing world: the role of new plant varieties and high-quality seed in agriculture. Second World Seed Conference. FAO. 2009).