Chapter 14. Seed systems to support rapid adoption of improved varieties in wheat
New varieties of crops are developed to provide farmers seeds of cultivars that are acquainted with specific environmental or management conditions to realize best yield and quality. Seed is the carrier of genetic potential for the performance of a crop, hence is considered the most vital input in agriculture. Wheat being self-pollinated, it is not necessary to buy seed every year as in case of hybrids. Seeds are multiplied through an informal or formal approach. In most developing countries, informal wheat seed sector is dominant. Seed production follows well defined steps wherein a particular class of seed is grown to deliver another class of seed to the farmer. In general, there are four classes of seeds in wheat – nucleus, breeder, foundation and certified, although in some cases registered seed is also produced. The strength of the seed sector varies across countries – strong in developed countries but moderate to weak in the Global South. In most countries seed production and its marketing is regulated and both public and private sectors are involved. In counties with a not so strong seed sector, a fast track approach for varietal release and seed dissemination has been advocated to meet the challenges of climate change and transboundary diseases.