Stories of change: Small millet farmers increase yields through participatory varietal selection in South Asia

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May 2014


This outcome story is one in a series that reports on research supported by the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF), a program of Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), undertaken with financial support from the Government of Canada, provided through Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD). Produced by WRENmedia in April 2014.


Small millets are more nutritious and have a lower glycemic index than rice and wheat, but lack of improved varieties and an organized seed system are constraining production. Using participatory varietal selection (PVS), farmers have identified small millet varieties that yield over 15% more than existing ones; PVS is much quicker than conventional crop breeding. The selected varieties are now being taken up by the formal seed supply and varietal development institutions in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Up to 4,000 farmers will have access to quality small millet seeds by the end of 2014. Greater varietal diversity in small millet cultivation will help to reduce farmers’ vulnerability to adverse weather conditions and to pests and diseases.