Africa Vegetable Breeding Consortium (AVBC)

Africa Vegetable Breeding Consortium (AVBC)

  • Overview:

Seed companies in Africa continue to rely on public domain open-pollinated varieties for example in Eastern and Southern Africa of tomato and chili such as Tanya and Tengeru-97 tomatoes that were introduced by the World Vegetable Center in the late 1990s. While the vegetable seed sector in Africa is undergoing rapid change.. Research and development are becoming increasingly important for vegetable seed companies as market competition intensifies.

The Africa Vegetable Breeding Consortium (AVBC) is a joint initiative of the World Vegetable Center and the Africa Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) aimed at promoting the development of a strong vegetable seed sector in Africa.

Established in 2018, the AVBC helps companies to:

  • Learn about the latest developments in vegetable breeding research from the WorldVeg team of internationally renowned plant breeders
    • Obtain improved breeding material (varieties, inbred lines and hybrids) to enhance your cultivar catalogues
    • Meet breeders, pathologists, entomologists, and other researchers to strengthen your knowledge network
    • Share experiences with colleagues from other vegetable seed companies operating in Africa
    • Invest in joint projects with other consortium members that target the specific needs of their companies

AVBC membership is open only to AFSTA members in good standing. The AVBC aims to support companies of all sizes, including small, regional and international companies.

WorldVeg, an autonomous, philanthropic, non-profit agricultural research and development institute, strives to realize the potential of vegetables for healthier lives and more resilient livelihoods. WorldVeg carries out its mission by forming research partnerships with government, non-governmental, and private sector organizations to conserve and utilize vegetable biodiversity, improve vegetable varieties, and increase vegetable production, marketing and consumption.

Benefits for Members

(a)    Each Member can request 10 breeding lines free of charge every year from WorldVeg, subject to seed availability and phytosanitary clearance of requested accessions/lines.

(b)   Members will be granted a 24-month exclusivity from 1 November of each year (“Lead Access Period”) for accessing the annual selected consortium exclusive breeding lines and hybrids. The exclusive lines and hybrids will be made available for request after completion of all seed export quarantine procedures.

(c)    WorldVeg will organize and coordinate one annual workshop to:

  1. demonstrate new outputs of its vegetable improvement program
  2. discuss results of WorldVeg breeding line evaluation generated by Members at their own field test sites using experimental protocols provided by WorldVeg.

iii.  allow Members view demonstration trials of the consortium exclusive lines and hybrids, preliminary yield trials (“PYT”) and/or an advanced testing stage of selected elite breeding lines.

WorldVeg will offer free annual workshop participation for two (2) employees from each Member ; this includes workshop materials, meals and coffee breaks during the workshop, and ground transportation. Members  will cover the cost of their international or national travel to reach the workshop vicinity, lodging, and any other expenses. Location, dates, and format of annual workshops will be announced by WorldVeg every year.

(d)   Members will have the opportunity to hold discussions with WorldVeg scientists by appointment. Members may have early access to screening protocols or other kinds of scientific information developed at WorldVeg as long as the sharing of such information does not conflict with existing agreements and/or policies of WorldVeg.

Special Project: development and release of new tomato and pepper varieties adapted to local growing conditions and markets

WorldVeg proposes a collaborative strategy, where AVBC members working across Africa jointly invest in the development of new tomato and pepper cultivars tailored to the African market. WorldVeg will provide the genetic resources, training and technical backstopping for the breeding activities of consortium member companies.


To strengthen tomato and pepper breeding programs among AVBC members to facilitate the development and release of new varieties adapted to local growing conditions and markets.


  1. Germplasm sharing
    1. WorldVeg will provide member companies with a panel of 20 pepper and 20 tomato breeding lines with proven performance in multi-location trials across SSA. These breeding lines are high yielding and stable sources of abiotic stress tolerance, and contain resistances to various biotic stresses, have  high fruit quality and are accepted by consumers.
  1. Capacity strengthening
    1. WorldVeg provides hands-on training for a maximum of two (2) staffs per company. The training will be held at the WorldVeg regional office in Benin and will aim to strengthen the capacity of seed companies on the following topics. :
      1. Crossing block design and hybridization
      2. Field selection, note taking, record keeping – pedigrees
  • Heterosis, yield, and yield component traits
  1. Breeding for disease resistance
  2. Establishment of tester lines

Additional training modules can be added upon request.

  1. WorldVeg will support seed companies in seed breeding.
  1. Technical backstopping

WorldVeg will provide the following support to each seed company:

  1. Support companies in designing and developing crossing blocks[1] using WorldVeg-developed parental lines and local collections
    1. Parental selection
    2. Dominant and recessive traits
  • Heterotic groups[2] and heterosis[3] (genetic and phenotypic)
  1. Training in molecular marker assisted selection
  1. Selection of high performing individuals among segregating populations
  2. Coordinated multilocation adaption testing trials of newly developed tomato and pepper varieties (2 per year and per member company) and data sharing
  3. Optional assessment of the seed company breeding program and make recommendations on key missing competencies and facilities

Membership requirement

Consortium membership is open to all AFSTA members in good standing. The consortium term is a calendar year from 1 January to 31 December.

  • Multinational companies (offices on at least 2 continents): US$4500.00 per year
    • Regional companies (offices in at least 2 countries on the same continent): US$3000.00 per year
    • Local companies (offices in only 1 country): US$1500.00 per year

Consortium fees are non-refundable. 

[1] Number of parental lines and which parental lines are to be crossed to generate hybrids or a new segregating population

[2]  A heterotic group is a set of genetically related genotypes that show similar hybrid performance when crossed with individuals from another genetically distinct germplasm group

[3] Heterosis refers to the phenomenon that progeny of diverse varieties of a species or crosses between species exhibit greater biomass, speed of development, and fertility than both parents


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