In the Netherlands, the availability of suitable varieties for the organic sector is an important issue. Because of the limited scale of the organic sector, conventional breeding companies do not have programmes fully geared towards organic agriculture. Some companies do try to accommodate priorities of the organic sector in their breeding programmes.
To address the need for varieties adapted to organic farming, various initiatives are being set up from within the organic sector, such as breeding companies and breeding cooperatives. For the past 5 to 10 years, The Louis Bolk Institute has been exploring breeding approaches that seem to fit better to organic farming. One approach being stimulated is chain based breeding in spring wheat, specifically to have more varieties with good baking quality. Another approach is the so-called Composite Cross Population breeding method in wheat.
For potatoes, a successful collaborative breeding programme of breeding companies and farmer-breeders has been running since 2009. Currently the potential for the use, multiplication and selection of open-pollinated vegetable varieties by farmers is being studied. In this presentation, the lessons learned will be presented.