Narang Famers Prefer Traditional Rice Varieties over Improved Varieties
Farmers of Narang continue to have faith in the saying that “Old is gold and not all that glitters is gold.” This is evident from the fact that most Narang farmers have preferred to select and continue the cultivation of traditional rice varieties instead of the many high-yielding improved rice varieties.
This was found with the engagement of 50 farmers in the Participatory Varietal Selection (PVS) program on rice that aimed to evaluate high-yielding improved and traditional rice varieties in Narang under the Participatory Rice Conservation project.
The aim was to increase the diversity of rice and its productivity by providing the farmers better rice varieties. The PVS in Narang was started in 2013.
We started the PVS trial with 13 varieties, of which six were high-yielding improved rice varieties, three were locally improved traditional varieties, and four were traditional rice varieties of Narang Geog. The seed of the improved varieties and locally improved varieties were provided by Research and Development Center (RDC), Wengkhar.
In the beginning, some farmers were reluctant to try new varieties. In the first year of the project, only 50 farmers showed interest on PVS. After the first season of the trial, more farmers became keen to join the PVS program as they were convinced with production gains from the new rice varieties.
Following the success of the first season, 11 more farmers actively participated in project activities to cultivate the new rice varieties. They were given advice and demonstration on improved nursery raising methods. However, the entire field management from nursery to harvest was based on the farmers’ traditional practices.
After two years of demonstration, the farmers have selected two additional varieties based on careful consideration of their personal preferences. The rice genetic resources in the village has increased by 66%.
During the PVS process, farmers had the opportunity to assess the taste, cooking quality, and other important characteristics of the new rice varieties and compared them with local varieties like Dakpa Narang and Zangthi 2.
After careful consideration, the farmers finally decided to select Dakpa Narang and Zangthi-2. While Dakpa Narang is their traditional variety that has been improved by RNR RDC Wengkhar through seed selelction, Zangthi-2 is a locally improved rice variety introduced to Narang Geog by RNR RDC Wengkhar. These two varieties also produced the highest yield.
In the words of Meme Dawa, “PVS was a very good opportunity for farmers of Narang Geog to learn the art of seed selection and selecting better rice varieties.”
At least in Narang Geog, there’s no need to worry about losing local rice genetic resources as the farmers have strongly decided to take up the role of custodians of their traditional rice varieties.
HARVESTS: Farmers’ Success Stories
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