In predominantly agricultural tropical countries the need to raise the production of good-quality foodstuffs and raw material is today greater than ever. The rise in production efficiency, so essential for our very existence, can be obtained only partly by improved cultural practices, increased use of fertilizers and better plant protection. It is now generally recognized that local varieties adapted to traditional cultural methods often fail to respond favourably to improved growing conditions. Therefore plant breeders have a most important part to play in the total effort. The greatest challenges and opportunities await them in the tropics. There the developments in agriculture and horticulture could be dramatic, provided that the planting material which is made available to the grower consists of genotypes giving the best results under the new conditions.
In tropical agriculture and horticulture perennial crops occupy an important place. In several of them, especially in plantation crops, much effort has been given to improve the plants by careful selection and breeding. Some breeding programmes have been going on for many years and have considerably increased the yield and improved the quality of the product.