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Farmers' management of rice varietal diversity in the mid-hills of Nepal: implications for on-farm conservation and crop improvement

  • R. B. Rana (a1), C. J. Garforth (a2) and B. R. Sthapit (a3)

Season-long monitoring of on-farm rice (Oryza sativa, L.) plots in Nepal explored farmers' decision-making process on the deployment of varieties to agroecosystems, application of production inputs to varieties, agronomic practices and relationship between economic return and area planted per variety. Farmers deploy varieties [landraces (LRs) and modern varieties (MVs)] to agroecosystems based on their understanding of characteristics of varieties and agroecosystems, and the interaction between them. In marginal growing conditions, LRs can compete with MVs. Within an agroecosystem, economic return and area planted to varieties have positive relationship, but this is not so between agroecosystems. LRs are very diverse on agronomic and economic traits; therefore, they cannot be rejected a priori as inferior materials without proper evaluation. LRs have to be evaluated for useful traits and utilized in breeding programmes to generate farmer-preferred materials for marginal environments and for their conservation on-farm.

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