ICRISAT demonstrates a fertile collaboration between seed companies and public institutions.
On October 23, the Access to Seeds team met with the crop improvement team at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)* in Patancheru, India.
The institute provides access to improved varieties of sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet, groundnut, chickpea and pigeon pea by developing parent lines that seed companies adopt for further breeding.
Seed companies pay an annual subscription-based membership fee to participate in ICRISAT’s consortium, allowing them to select from an annual number of parent lines to develop into hybrids.
Funding its research in part through the membership fee, ICRISAT only collects royalties on its parent lines. Public-private cooperation is important partly due to the high production costs. Through such collaboration, improved varieties reach smallholder farmers at a faster rate. For instance, 30 companies are currently working with ICRISAT to provide access to pearl millet seed. What had previously been stored in gene banks is now being used for the benefit of all.
*One of 15 members within CGIAR’s global network of agricultural research centers.