13 June 1997

Royalty revenues lift breeder profit

PLANT breeders are back in profit thanks to rationalisation and royalties on farm-saved seed.

Income from the long-disputed levy on farm-saved seed now amounts to £1.6m from winter crops and £0.25m from spring crops, says Anthony Keeling, chairman of the British Society of Plant Breeders.

"That has stabilised investment in plant breeding, and companies are now investing at record levels to improve characters like disease resistance and quality traits."

More focused breeding to develop varieties for increasingly detailed buyer specifications will follow, he forecasts.

"At a time of falling crop prices the value of plant breeding, which costs growers £20m, compares very favourably with the £416m spent on agrochemicals, or the £147m spent on fungicides alone," he adds.

Royalty revenue is expected to rise by 10% next year as some rates increase and newer varieties take a larger share of plantings, notes Mr Keeling.n