The mission of the World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg) is research and development to realize the potential of vegetables for healthier lives and more resilient livelihoods. WorldVeg operates across Asia and Africa, and its breeding portfolio comprises global as well as traditional vegetables.
Cucurbit crops make an important contribution to global food and nutrition security and are economically important to smallholder farmers in Asia, who account for 83% of global cucurbit production. The global cucurbit breeding program of WorldVeg focuses on four species: bitter gourd (Momordica charantia), tropical pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata), ridge gourd (Luffa acutangula), and sponge gourd (Luffa cylindrica syn. L. aegyptiaca).
Improved cultivars have been developed by the private seed industry, however, repeated recycling of lines derived from elite hybrids has narrowed the genetic base and reduced genetic gains for yield and other key traits. This trend will continue unless a concerted effort is made to introduce new genetic variability into elite hybrids.
WorldVeg has organized a breeding consortium with seed companies to facilitate access to the Center’s new breeding lines derived from hitherto unexploited landraces to develop genetically diverse, improved cucurbit cultivars with enhanced yield and resistance to major diseases. Through this partnership, WorldVeg presents its improved lines and F1 hybrids at Crop Field Days for selection by private seed industry staff engaged in breeding, product development, and sales and marketing.