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INNOVATION IN SEED EVALUATION AND DELIVERY SYSTEMS:
THE RICE VARIETAL ADOPTION STRATEGY
Innovations in Seed Evaluation & Delivery Systems:
The Rice Varietal Adoption Strategy
The rice varietal adoption of STRASA has catalyzed a ‘demand-driven approach’ for stress-tolerant rice varieties (STRVs), creating sustainable delivery points, especially around seed delivery and extension systems in the agricultural extension system. These have improved varietal replacement and adoption rates through better access and availability of quality seeds of STRVs.
Varietal evaluation and exhibition by way of IRRI’s ‘Evidence Hubs’ enhance the diffusion of new and upcoming STRVs among key stakeholders in the rice seed value chain.
Slow adoption of new stress-tolerant rice varieties is caused by lack of awareness and knowledge on STRVs of extension staff and farmers, and lack of information by seed distributors on farmers’ demand.
Stakeholder interaction helps identify the preferred traits in rice varieties, and encourages selection and rapid adoption, while validating the typical seed demand in a region.
Evidence-based learnings from Evidence Hubs builds knowledge and improves awareness of seed dealers, distributors, producers, government & private market agents, and helps convey feedback to state authorities and policy makers.
A demand-driven seed system that has better varietal selection and sustainable, rapid adoption of STRVs was established
IRRI is supporting head-to-head (H-2-H) trials, which are field evaluation in which one new STRV and one variety presently cultivated by a farmer are cultivated in the same field. Comparisons are drawn on yield performance and / or tolerance to different biotic/abiotic stresses, with all other farm interventions remaining constant.
Seed diffusion in South Asia usually takes place via the informal seed system ‘farmer-to-farmer’ network. The conventional approach of field demonstrations of STRVs for farmers to encourage wider adoption of new rice varieties has limitation: farmers can only witness the outcomes during the demonstration, but are unable to see the gains that take place over time.
H-2H trials provide farmers with experiential learning, so they can make comparisons between rice varieties under their direct supervision and management.
This gives rise to improved decision-making by farmers, leading to better varietal adoption and faster diffusion through the informal seed system.
H-2-H trials facilitate a robust seed system, by ensuring that farmers have sustained understanding of varietal yield differences. This practice extends farmer buy-in beyond STRV adoption and catalyzes informal word-of-mouth endorsement among their networks, so other farmers can reap similar benefits.
IRRI encourages integrative demonstrations that bring together key stakeholders, especially the seed dealers who liaise between farmers and seed suppliers. These demonstration plots are further used as ‘seed production plots’ and linked to the formal seed system networks. During integrative demonstrations, farmers are also trained in different aspects of quality seed production, certification and storage.