Participatory approach to crop improvement at the community level in Vietnam
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Nguyen, Ngoc De. 2001. Participatory approach to crop improvement at the community level in Vietnam . In: An exchange of experiences from South and South East Asia: Proceedings of the international symposium on Participatory plant breeding and participatory plant genetic resources enhancement, Pokhara, Nepal, 1-5 May 2000 . Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), Participatory Research and Gender Analysis (PRGA), Program Coordination Office, Cali, CO. p. 157-164.
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Crop improvement has been one of the strong, continuous programs in the Mekong Delta for major crops, especially rice. However, most breeding programs have been set and designed by breeders, neglecting the role of users: farmers and farming communities. Farmers have been the passive users, receiving finished breeding lines varieties for their production. The dissemination process of “technology transfer" has been very slow and costly for both breeders and farmers. The use of participatory approaches in crop improvement have ensured the involvement of farmers in the whole process or, at least, in the evaluation process. This has resulted in better understanding and acceptability of new crop varieties generated through the breeding program. Can Tho University, as the leading research institution for adapting participatory approaches to rice improvement, started on-farm breeding programs as early as 1975, after the war, by sending out their staff and students to work closely with farmers on crop-improvement programs. In 1994, with the inception of the Community-Based Biodiversity Development and Conservation (CBDC) project, participatory plant- breeding (PPB) and participatory varietal-selection (PVS) approaches were introduced as methods to develop and identify crop varieties specific lo niche environments and farmers' preferences. These participatory approaches are also being used in one of the study sites, Tra Cu, of the global in situ Conservation project implemented in Vietnam in collaboration with Ihe international Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI). The result has been very positive, with many promising crop varieties selected from these programs and used in larger-scale production. Farmers have been successful in segregating material selection and many farmers have become well known through these activities. Participatory approaches are very important for crop improvement at the community level in Vietnam. PPB and PVS approaches are the key tool for crop improvement. Successful results from farmer selections have strongly proven that these approaches are right. This experience has been very useful for national crop-improvement programs.
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