Participatory plant breeding in finger millet in India. Phase 1. Final Technical Report.
The project operated in 7 villages (Katihalli, Jalikatte, and Erajjanahatti in Chitradurga taluk; Maddheru, Kumminagatta in Holalkere taluk; and S. Roppa and Bansihalli in Hosadurga taluk in Karnataka. A participatory household survey conducted in May to July 1999 with 150 farmers in 7 seven villages revealed that farmers wanted new varieties with higher grain and fodder yield, blast resistance and drought tolerance. On the basis of farmers' requirements six varieties were selected for testing with farmers. Three of these are released varieties viz., GPU 26 (a pre-release variety at the time of testing but released for Karnataka in 1999); GPU 28 (released for Karnataka in 1998 but farmers were not aware of it) and VL 149 (All India release). Three other varieties viz., VL 305, GPU 46 and 9002 chosen were promising entries in All India Coordinated trials. These six varieties were tested with 150 farmers in Farmer Managed Participatory Research (FAMPAR) trials in kharif 1999. The 150 farmers were divided into six batches of 25 farmers each and each batch of farmers grew one new variety across 7 villages alongside the local variety (PR 202) for comparison. Four new varieties significantly yielded more than the local variety PR 202. The other two varieties also yielded more but non-significantly. Variety GPU 28 was highest yielding with 51% higher grain yield than the local variety. Grain yield was not the only criterion to judge the performance of varieties. Farmers' perceptions were also recorded in focus group discussions (FGD). FGDs revealed that farmers' prefer varieties for multiple reasons. Variety GPU 28 was the most preferred one for normal sowing in the second week of July and GPU 26 for late sowing in August when monsoons are delayed. Variety VL 305 was preferred as a short duration second crop (85 days) after sesame and cowpea.