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Varietal selection in marginal agroecological niches and cultural landscapes: the case of rice in the Togo Hills
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The Togo Hills borderland between Ghana and Togo is known for its cultural and ecological diversity and dynamic socio-political history. In this setting, African rice (Oryza glaberrima) is cultivated together with other local cultivars of Asian rice (O. sativa), and smallholders are keen innovators. This article presents the results of participatory variety selection (PVS) trials, in four different cultural and ecological settings within the Togo Hills, designed to understand farmers’ innovation and variety choice. Farmers belonging to different ethnic groups organized their trials and evaluated fourteen farmer varieties from six West-African countries and one Nerica variety. The way the PVS trials took shape and evaluation was conducted reflected the socio-cultural and economic differences between the settings. Despite these differences, farmers showed a broad interest and preference for different varieties based on different criteria, related to agroecological conditions, household consumption needs, market demands and/or ritual purposes. We contend that ― in a period of climate crisis, bio- and agrobiodiversity depletion, rapid social change and market instability ― plant breeding in West Africa must be participatory, decenter from a focus on high external input agriculture and include farmers’ varieties, better contributing to food security, quality, and nutrition, while strengthening agroecological practices.
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Permanent link to this itemhttps://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12478/7069
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