Participatory evaluation guides the development and selection of farmers' preferred rice varieties for salt- and flood-affected coastal deltas of South and Southeast Asia. uri icon


  • Rice is the staple food and provides livelihood for smallholder farmers in the coastal delta regions of South and Southeast Asia. However, its productivity is often low because of several abiotic stresses including high soil salinity and waterlogging during the wet (monsoon) season and high soil and water salinity during the dry season. Development and dissemination of suitable rice varieties tolerant of these multiple stresses encountered in coastal zones are of prime importance for increasing and stabilizing rice productivity, however adoption of new varieties has been slow in this region. Here we implemented participatory varietal selection (PVS) processes to identify and understand smallholder farmers' criteria for selection and adoption of new rice varieties in coastal zones. New breeding lines together with released rice varieties were evaluated in on-station and on-farm trials (researcher-managed) during the wet and dry seasons of 2008-2014 in the Indian Sundarbans region. Significant correlations between preferences of male and female farmers in most trials indicated that both groups have similar criteria for selection of rice varieties. However, farmers' preference criteria were different from researchers' criteria. Grain yield was important, but not the sole reason for variety selection by farmers. Several other factors also governed preferences and were strikingly different when compared across wet and dry seasons. For the wet season, farmers preferred tall (140-170 cm), long duration (160-170 d), lodging resistant and high yielding rice varieties because these traits are required in lowlands where water stagnates in the field for about four months (July to October). For the dry season, farmers' preferences were for high yielding, salt tolerant, early maturing (115-130 d) varieties with long slender grains and good quality for better market value. Pest and disease resistance was important in both seasons but did not rank high. When farmers ranked the two most preferred varieties, the ranking order was sometimes variable between locations and years, but when the top four varieties that consistently ranked high were considered, the variability was low. This indicates that at least 3-4 of the best-performing entries should be considered in succeeding multi-location and multi-year trials, thereby increasing the chances that the most stable varieties are selected. These findings will help improve breeding programs by providing information on critical traits. Selected varieties through PVS are also more likely to be adopted by farmers and will ensure higher and more stable productivity in the salt- and flood affected coastal deltas of South and Southeast Asia.

publication date

  • 2018
  • 2018
  • 2017