Participatory crop improvement in Eastern India: An impact assessment
DFID-PSP has funded Participatory Plant Breeding (PPB) in rice in eastern India. The project was jointly undertaken by the Gramin Vikas Trust Eastern India Rainfed Farming Project (GVT(E)), Birsa Agricultural University (BAU), Ranchi and the Centre for Arid Zone Studies (CAZS) University of Wales, Bangor, UK. As the result of PPB, two varieties of rice (Ashoka 200F and Ashoka 228) were officially recommended for upland rainfed farming systems in Jharkhand. Surveys were undertaken in 2002 and 2004 to determine their impact on the livelihoods of farmers in eastern India. Farmer preference for the new varieties was high. For example, in 2002 about 97% of farmers indicated that they would grow the new varieties next year, and 90%, or more, farmers perceived them to be higher yielding, and have a higher market price in both the 2002 and 2004 surveys. The price advantage was 33% in two of the three states and overall it was 14% in the 2004 survey. In both years, most farmers also perceived the new varieties to be earlier, higher yielding, more resistant to drought and lodging. ` The new varieties significantly improved household income, with a large proportion reporting that the effect on income was large. In the 2004 survey, nearly 70% of farmers reported increases in on-farm income of at least 20%. A financial analysis, using very conservative assumptions for the adoption ceilings of the new rice varieties indicate, in all scenarios, that the cumulative benefits from this project will be greater than the total expenditure on the Plant Sciences Research Programme 1995-2005. The only variable is how quickly this will be achieved and estimates centre around 2010. Seed multiplication is being undertaken by a range of non-governmental and governmental organisations to meet the high demand for seed. A seed multiplication and dissemination programme is also underway in western India where the varieties have also proven to be highly accepted by farmers.