Comparing farmers and breeders rankings in varietal selection for low-input environments: A case study of rainfed rice in eastern India

B. Courtois1, B. Bartholome1, D. Chaudhary5, G. McLaren1, C.H. Misra4, N.P. Mandal2,
S. Pandey1, T. Paris1, C. Piggin1, K. Prasad2, A.T.Roy6, R.K. Sahu3, V.N. Sahu3, S. Sarkarung1,
S.K. Sharma3, A. Singh4, H.N. Singh4, O.N. Singh4, N.K. Singh7, R.K. Singh1, R.K. Singh2,
S. Singh4</sup>, P.K. Sinha2, B.V.S. Sisodia4 & R. Takhur7

1International Rice Research Institute, MCPO Box 3127, 1271 Makati City, Philippines; 2Central Rainfed Upland Rice Research Station, P.O. Box 48, Hazaribagh, Bihar, India; 3Indira Gandhi Agricultural University, F/2 Krishak Nagar, Raipur, 492 012 Madhya Pradesh, India; 4Narendra Deva University of Agriculture and Technology, Kumarganj, Faizabad 224 229, Uttar Pradesh, India; 5Central Rice Research Institute, Cuttack, 753 006, Orissa, India; 6Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology, Bhubaneswar, 751003 Orissa, India; 7Rajendra Agricultural University, Pusa, Samastipur, 848125 Bihar, India


A number of breeding institutions developed a project to assess importance of participatory plant breeding approachesfor rainfed rice improvement in eastern India. The results of the first two years of participatory varietal selection are reported here. The objective was to evaluate the respective effects of participation of farmers invarietal evaluation and decentralization of varietal testing from breeding stations to farmers’ fields on varietal ranking. Fields representing various hydrological situations were chosen in two to three villages at four rainfedlowland sites and one upland site. Sets of 15 to 25 varieties were tested both in farmers’ fields and on station in1997 and 1998 and ranked by both farmers and breeders. The effect of participation was judged by comparing therankings attributed by farmers and breeders to a given set of material in a given trial. The effect of decentralizationwas determined through comparisons between individual breeders’ rankings across trials. Farmers’ rankings were not randomly allocated, but agreement within the farmers’ group was not always very strong. Except at one site, concordance among breeders’ ranking was high, but, because of the limited number of breeders involved, it wasseldom significant. In about two-thirds of the trials, there was a good agreement between farmers’ and breeders’mean rankings. The consensus was particularly strong when severe constraints induced contrasting behavior inthe genotypes. The decentralization effect appeared to be moderate, but variations due to a breeder effect wererecorded. The part of genotype by environment interactions for grain yield due to location within one site and yearwas evaluated through various methods, showing more effect of G × E interactions at some sites than at others.Crossover interactions inducing changes in ranks represented a limited part of the yearly G × E interactions at allsites. Both farmer participation and decentralization of varietal testing in farmers’ field would help in best matchingthe varieties to the needs, although their combined contribution would be more useful in some sites than in others.

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