What does plant breeding offer?


Over the years, plant breeding has led to major improvements in the sector.

Environmental and economic improvements per kilo of food produced

Increase the productivity of plants

The most direct effect is the yield of production (food and other products) using the same surface area, which contributes to providing a solution for one of the great demands of population growth, which is the challenge of feeding the world.

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).

To give some examples, according to the data provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, in just over 25 years, the productivity of olive trees has doubled, and that of vineyards has tripled.

Increasing economic yield

Due to the improvement in productivity and the quality of the products obtained, the economic value of crops has also shot up in 25 years, according to information provided by the Ministry of Agriculture.

for example, the financial profit has increased 270% for wheat, 1200% for tomato, 110% for corn, 300% for olives and 200% for vineyards 200%

This means a significant increase in income for farmers.

Increase in the efficiency of water consumption

In a country like Spain, improvements designed to get more product without increasing water consumption are particularly important. In this sense, optimising the use of this scarce resource is particularly significant.

the value obtained by the crop per cubic metre of water used has increased in just over 30 years by 19% in the case of wheat, 63% for tomatoes, 75% for oranges, 215% for olives, etc.

Reduction in CO2 emissions

The tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere per kilo of product have dropped substantially in the last 30 years. In the case of corn, it went down 34%, while oranges went down 40%, 42% for olives, and 24% for tomato.

Energy savings

In terms of energy savings, there have also been important changes in the last thirty years. In the case of wheat, wheat production per mega joule of energy consumed went up 57%, 50% for corn, 70% for olives, and 35% for tomato.

Less loss of land

Regarding the increase in the production of food per ton of ground lost, the indicators are also favourable. With the same loss of land, more food is produced: 60% in growing wheat, 225% in growing olive trees, and 75% in growing tomatoes.

Improving the features and qualities of crops and the products obtained

  • Reducing the height of certain crops, which avoids loss due to flattening (falling from the wind), is very important for grain
  • Sturdier skin, which helps prevent losses during harvesting, storage, and transportation, like in the case of melons
  • Fresh products that last longer, such as aubergines and tomatoes.

Improving the industrial properties of crops

  • Its transformation is favoured and this facilitates the industry’s response to the demands of consumers (oils, fabrics, sugar contents, etc.).
  • The use of inputs has been optimised (fertilisers, phytosanitary products, water, etc.)
  • It facilitates farmers’ work, whether directly or using machinery.
  • It gives the product better commercial qualities.
  • Products that contribute to improving health are obtained, through the expression of certain nutritional features.

Improving nutritional qualities

For example, in the case of golden rice, in Asian countries with vitamin deficits and varieties suitable for celiacs.

Improving food safety

Improving food safety

The improvement of varieties contributes to creating higher-quality, long lasting and safer food

Improving the sensory qualities of foods

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