Client-oriented breeding sparks a low-input green revolution in Bangladesh
In Bangladesh, farmers enthusiastically adopted newly introduced rice varieties because they yielded much more grain, but without any of the disadvantages that are often encountered with modern varieties. They had high quality grain, they did not require more fertilizer, and they were earlier to mature than any available alternative. The superiority over locally available and recommended varieties was not an incremental gain but a considerable advance with increased grain yields of over 30% in farmers' fields without increases in inputs. Yield gains were over 1 t ha-1, even higher than those in Nepal the country where they were originally bred using novel, highly client-oriented methods. Farmers are rapidly adopting the best of the introduced varieties not only for their high yields but also for their improved cooking and eating qualities. However, to produce greater impact continued funding is required to promote the rapid adoption of the introduced varieties throughout Bangladesh and to introduce varieties adapted to an even wider range of rice ecosystems. Such an impact would result in significant increases in rice yields at both a district and national level and would provide overwhelming evidence that this new approach to plant breeding is superior and should be formally adopted. The pioneering participatory plant breeding approaches used to produce these varieties were all designed to increase the client orientation of the breeding programme by identifying client needs, tailoring products to meet those needs, and testing those products as soon as is possible with the client farmers. Client-oriented methods of plant breeding are highly transferable and can be used in most, if not all, crops and in any country.