Two participatory approaches to varietal selection were compared in February-sown (Chaite) rice and main-season rice in high potential production systems in Nepal. One method, called farmer managed participatory research (FAMPAR), was researcher intensive, while the other, called informal research and development (IRD), demanded fewer resources. The trials were conducted in 18 villages in high potential production systems in Chitwan and Nawalparasi districts of Nepal. Six new varieties of Chaite rice and 16 of main-season rice were tested in over 300 trials of Chaite rice and nearly 1100 trials of main-season rice over two years in 1997 and 1998. Surveys were done in 1997, 1998 and 1999 to record the extent of adoption and spread of the new rice varieties in the study villages. In many cases, farmers tested varieties for two years before deciding whether to adopt or drop them. Varieties were quite
widely accepted, adopted for niches in a few villages, or rejected. The two participatory approaches identified the same varieties, but FAMPAR, which used formal survey methods, was more useful for diagnosing reasons for adoption or rejection. However, IRD used much cheaper anecdotal methods of evaluation, so it was more cost-effective. Moreover,farmer-to-farmer seed dissemination was higher in IRD villages, probably because farmers in FAMPAR villages felt that the project would re-supply seed if needed. The benefits from both approaches are considerable, but to adopt them substantial policy changes in varietal testing, release and extension systems will be required.
adoption farmer-managed participatory research(FAMPAR) informal research and development (IRD) rice participatoryvarietal selection (PVS)