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Farmers' Perceptions on Rice Varieties in Sikasso Region of Mali and their Implications for Rice Breeding

Efisue, A., Tongoona, P., Derera, J., Langyintuo, A., Laing, M., Ubi, B.
Journal of agronomy and crop science 2008 v.194 no.5 pp. 393-400
farm surveys, agroecosystems, rice, plant breeding, high-yielding varieties, crop quality, Oryza sativa, innovation adoption, phenology, drought, water stress, height, dryland farming, grain yield, color, farmers' attitudes, irrigated farming, crop management, Mali
Rice is an important staple food and cash crop. Although many varieties of rice have been developed to date, few are adopted possibly because researchers did not take into account farmers' preferences and perceptions on varieties during the development process. Because farmers increasingly rely on low-yielding landraces, production fails to meet demand. To provide an understanding of farmers' preferences for rice cultivars and perceptions on drought stress and management practices as inputs to rice breeding research, this study was conducted in the Sikasso region of Mali in September 2005 using participatory rural appraisal approach. A total number of 125 farmers were randomly selected from 10 villages in three ecologies and interviewed individually and in groups. Results showed that farmers' preferences, crop management practices and ranking of production constraints differed significantly across ecologies. Whereas farmers in the irrigated ecologies preferred high-yielding, long duration rice varieties, those in the upland and lowland ecologies preferred tall plants of short duration. While upland and lowland farmers preferred red and white long grains, respectively, irrigated ecologies were indifferent about grain colour. Farmers appeared willing to trade-off yield for grain quality and plant height, inconsistent with traditional breeders' selection criteria. The high preference for tall varieties among farmers in the upland and lowland ecologies also contrasted sharply with the model of dwarf rice varieties responsible for the green revolution in Asia. The implication of these findings for rice breeders is that different plant idiotypes complemented by effective drought management practices should target different ecologies to increase impact.