Genetic Resources Newsletter, 2007, No. 152: 58–64
On-farm management of rice genetic diversity: understanding farmers’ knowledge on rice ecosystems and varietal deployment The paper highlights the methodological development of identifying and characterizing rice (Oryza sativa L.) ecosystems and the varietal deployment process through participatory approaches. Farmers have intricate knowledge of their rice ecosystems. Evidence from Begnas (mid-hill) and Kachorwa (plain) sites in Nepal suggests that farmers distinguish ecosystems for rice primarily on the basis of moisture and fertility of soils. Farmers also differentiate the number, relative size and specifi c characteristics of each ecosystem within a given geographic area. They allocate individual varieties to each ecosystem, based on the principle of ‘best fi t’ between ecosystem characteristics and varietal traits, indicating that competition between varieties mainly occurs within the ecosystems. Land use and ecosystems determine rice genetic diversity, with marginal land having fewer options for varieties than more productive areas. Modern varieties are mostly confi ned to productive land, whereas landraces are adapted to marginal ecosystems. Researchers need to understand the ecosystems and varietal distribution within ecosystems better in order to plan and execute programmes on agrobiodiversity conservation onfarm, diversity deployment, repatriation of landraces and monitoring varietal diversity. Simple and practical ways to elicit information on rice ecosystems and associated varieties through farmers’ group discussion at village level are suggested.
Key words: On-farm conservation, crop genetic diversity, ecosystems, varietal deployment, Nepal