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Enhancing On-Farm Rice Diversity

Dorji Wangchuk


Rice is the main staple cereal cultivated by farmers of Khanduthang village under Samtse Geog.

Many elderly farmers recall that they used to cultivate over 10 different traditional varieties. Many of these traditional rice varieties have been lost and most farmers have turned towards the cultivation of improved high-yielding rice varieties.

Since farmers of this village were very passionate to increase the diversity of rice varieties in Geog with more traditional varieties, the BUCAP/DARE project helped the farmers to accomplish their aspiration. The BUCAP activities that focused on the conservation, development and utilization of arable crops was started with 12 farmers in 2011 at Khanduthang.

The main objective of this project was to enhance the on-farm diversity and in-situ conservation of rice and other arable crops in close partnership with the local communities.

To provide the farmers with the opportunity to assess and select more rice varieties of their preference, Participatory Varietal Selection (PVS) was undertaken  in 2014 with eight varieties, of which six were traditional while the rest were improved high-yielding varieties. The seeds of these varieties were received from the Research and Development Center (RDC) at Bhur. 

The 12 BUCAP farmers jointly established the PVS trial in the field of Mr. S.K Gurung, a farmer, where they assessed the performance of the new varieties. The trial results indicated that the performance of traditional rice varieties like Sheto Kalami, Krishna Bhog, KaloNunia, Agamsali and Bhog Dhan were higher than that of the improved varieties Bhur Khamja 1 and 2 (Figure 4). 

Convinced with this trial result, BUCAP farmers decided to upscale the cultivation of Krishna Bhog and Kalo Nunia from the next season.

Mr. S.K Gurung who managed the PVS trial observed that most of the varieties were late maturing and yield was low. He decided to allocate more area to Krishna Bhog in the next season. Most farmers grow local varieties in small area and dedicate most of the rice area to the improved high-yielding varieties considering their higher productivity per unit area.

The farmers of Khanduthang face water shortage during the rice season and generally prefer to grow early maturing varieties and those varieties that do well under low water regime. Bhur Kamja 1 and Bhur Kamja 2 have been especially released by RDC Bhur as the rainfed rice varieties for areas that have less access to irrigation water. Farmers in Khanduthang have widely adopted these two varieties.

Khanduthang farmers recall that just five years ago they cultivated around 10 varieties, of which seven have been lost. Through the BUCAP project, 8 varieties, both traditional and improved, have been introduced and farmers now have a choice to cultivate different rice varieties.

Although some good rice varieties have already been lost, the on-farm rice diversity is maintained at the same level as five years back. The BUCAP project has played a pivotal role in enhancing the on-farm rice diversity in Khanduthang.


Lifted from

HARVESTS: Farmers’ Success Stories

Copyright 2016  Bhutan National Biodiversity Center and Ministry of Agriculture and Forests

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