Crop improvement refers to the genetic alteration of plants to satisfy human needs. In prehistory, human forebears in various parts of the world brought into cultivation a few hundred species from the hundreds of thousands available. In the process they transformed elements of these species into crops though genetic alterations that involved conscious and unconscious selection, the differential reproduction of variants. Through a long history of trial and error, a relatively few plant species have become the mainstay of agriculture and thus the world's food supply. This process of domestication involved the identification of certain useful wild species combined with a process of selection that brought about changes in appearance, quality, and productivity. The exact details of the process that altered the major crops is not fully understood, but it is clear that the genetic changes were enormous in many cases. In fact some crop plants have been so changed that for many of them, maize, for example, their origins are obscure, with no extant close wild relatives.
To develop stable and high yielding varieties of both food and cash crops.
To develop varieties with high nutritional value, good storability and acceptable qualities.
To breed for resistance or tolerance to pests, diseases and adverse conditions such as drought and soil acidity.
To develop appropriate production and management packages for sustainable agricultural production.
To conserve germplasm of important crops.
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