Plant breeders without borders (PBWB)

Plant breeders without borders looks to train smallholder farmers to breed and develop new varieties in underutilised crops around the world

Photo of Anthony Leddin
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Plant breed without borde

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Established (the solution has passed the previous stages and demonstrated success)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $100k - $250k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 1,000 - 5,000

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water
  • Rural development
  • Nutrition

Headquarters location: Country

  • Australia

Headquarters location: City

Yambuk, Victoria, Australia

Location(s) of impact

This initiative will be a worldwide program. Pilot projects have been carried out in : -Ethiopia, Addis Abba. -Indonesia, Bogor.


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Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

By 2050 the world needs to increase current food production by 70% to feed its estimated 9 billion population. This needs to be done under the shadow of climate change which is decreasing current crop yields around the world. More plant breeders are needed to create new varieties in underutilised species that are higher yielding and more tolerant of adverse climates. These varieties will give us the diversity to help with the changes ahead.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

Plant breeders without borders is about knowledge sharing of how to develop new varieties of underutilised species to increase yields and the income of smallholder farmers around the world. An example of this is the latest pilot project that was done in collaboration with Bogor University in Indonesia. Participatory plant breeding techniques were used where smallholder farmers were taught by volunteer plant breeders and university staff how to do the plant crossing out in the field for bambara groundnut and indigenous vegetables. They then did a market chain analysis for the crop, identifying weak points in the chain where plant breeding could be used as a solution. The smallholder farmers then created a list of selection criteria and ranked them in order of importance for a breeding program. Finally they designed a breeding program in partnership with the university.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

So far there have been 2 pilot projects for plant breeders without borders. The first was in Ethiopia in 2015 in partnership with the International Livestock Research Institute training smallholder farmers how to breed their own forage species. The second pilot project was in 2017 in Indonesia with Bogor University training smallholder farmers how to breed their own variety of Bambara groundnut. In Indonesia 5000 smallholder farmers would benefit from the varieties that would be developed in the program. This germplasm would then be made available worldwide. In 2013 243,000 tonne of bambara groundnut was grown around the world. The project is hoping to double yield and protein content. Bambara groundnut and other underutilised crops are more tolerant of adverse climates than staple crops such as rice, wheat and corn. Using underutilised crops can help increase food security.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

1. Plant breeders without borders is in the process of developing a crowdfunding strategy. It is hoped that $100,000 will be generated each year through this. 2. The first pilot project was funded through a grant through the Crawford fund valued at $10,000. 3. Bayer sponsored the second pilot project. More corporate sponsors are currently being sort. 4. Plant breeders without borders is an NGO so there is no income. 5. Philanthropist groups

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

Plant breeders without borders shares the knowledge of plant breeding to empower those who need it.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

In 2003 I was a student studying my passion in plant breeding and I went to a plant breeding conference where my "heros" in plant breeding gave me some of their knowledge. Many of these have retired and their knowledge is lost. There is also a decreasing number of young people wanting to do plant breeding around the world. I thought if we could bring these two groups together there could be a knowledge transfer to the next generation. I have also an interest in the developing world and I thought that these people were the ones that needed the help in plant breeding. There are many species around the world that if some breeding work could be done on them they could help feed the world. Hence that is where the idea came together.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Upon recommendation from others

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Marg Leijdens

Dear Anthony, your initiative is great. It is important that farmers become again owner of their crops and seeds, and that by participatory plantbreeding the selection includes characteristics that are important for small holders. Good luck with your project!