In this chapter we analyse the role of NGOs in the identification of cultivars for farmers and the multiplication and distribution of seeds to farmers. The work reported here was based at the KRIBHCO Indo-British Rainfed Farming Project (KRIBP(W)), a British Overseas Development Administration (ODA) funded project operating in the districts of Banswara (Rajasthan), Panchmahals (Gujarat) and Jhabua (Madhya Pradesh) to address the needs of smallholders and tribal farmers. The project in its initial phase has identified several production constraints relating to existing farming systems. Drawing the lessons from the participatory appraisals conducted in various project villages it is clear that seed related technologies could improve the production levels significantly.
The project has initiated Farmer Managed Participatory Research Trials (FAMPAR), on various crops involving several hundred farmers and found that some modern varieties, if appropriate to the local environments, are accepted not only by the farmers who have tried these varieties but also by farmers who have seen these MVs growing in or around their villages.
In many cases, the project has learned that the varieties which have been accepted by farmers are not the ones which have been formally released, notified and recommended by state agricultural universities and state department of agriculture of the three states under study (see section 2, and Annex 5). Some of the most popular introduced varieties (such as Kalinga III) were released in distant states, and, under present conditions, since they are not officially recognised, their popularisation must depend on organisations other than the universities and agriculture departments within the three states in which the project operates.
Numerous NGOs work in these three states and this study was initiated to examine their potential in offering introduced varieties to the farmers with whom they are working. Contacts were made with NGOs involved in seed-related activities and their activities summarised, especially those related to the identification of appropriate cultivars using participatory techniques, and the multiplication of seed using community-based systems. The objectives of the study were to produce a list of NGOs whose activities involve demonstrating and supplying seed of recommended cultivars and to establish a network of NGOs willing to collaborate with the KRIBP project on seed technology related issues in particular, and participatory approaches to farming system development in general.
To conduct the study, two inter-related methodologies were pursued: i.e., a postal survey of NGOs; and visits to a selection of responding NGOs.
Seeds of Choice: Making the Most of New Varieties for Small Farmers, ITDG Publishing, 1853394475, 1-8.