Collaborative breeding with farmers can be effective

Screenshot 2022-08-29 114319

February 2007


Field Crops Research, Volume 101, Issue 1, 20 February 2007, Pages 88–95

Plant breeding efficiency is increased by better taking into account the needs of the clients. This can sometimes be helped by involving farmers in selection in the segregating generations. We describe a rice-breeding programme in Nepal where the use of simple breeding methods optimised the benefits from such collaboration. Farmers grew in their fields large populations that were bulks derived from the F2 generations of single crosses. They selected within them starting in a generation where selfing was sufficiently advanced for the between-plant heritability to be high. Poorer bulks were soon rejected by farmers. A high proportion selected within the bulks and a significant proportion did so over several generations. An increasing number of farmers grew the best of the selected bulks because they spread from farmer to farmer without the need of intervention from scientists. Varieties selected from these bulks were preferred by farmers in on-farm trials and had a superior combination of yield and maturity compared with the later breeders’ selection from the same bulk. Levels of participation were higher with the better performing bulks and even when training was not provided, provided the germplasm performed acceptably well sufficient farmers selected in the bulks to make collaborative breeding cost effective. Collaborative breeding can be successful but demands different types of resources than those for on-station breeding so its cost effectiveness will vary with circumstances. It can be used to increase the probability of selecting segregants that perform well across environments by using methods that pool bulks selected by different farmers and it is also extremely useful for decentralising breeding programmes.

Keywords: Client-oriented breeding (COB); Participatory plant breeding (PPB); Participatory varietal selection (PVS); Rice; Collaborative