Participatory variety selection of maize genotypes in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa
South African Journal of Agricultural Extension (SAJAE)
Participatory variety selection (PVS) is important in understanding farmers ' selection criteria, raising awareness, and facilitating adoption of improved varieties. This study aimed to understand farmers' maize selection criteria, identify superior varieties based on farmers' selections, combined with use of agronomic yield data. The study was conducted in Jixini and Mkhwezo in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Focus group discussions (FGD) and semi-structured questionnaires were used
... ionnaires were used to identify maize selection criteria. Seven maize open pollinated varieties (OPVs) from CIMMYT-Zimbabwe (ZM 305, ZM 423 ZM 501, ZM 525, Obatanpa, ZM 621, ZM 627), two from IITA-Nigeria (BR 993, and Comp 4), three locally grown maize OPVs (Okavango, Afric 1 and Nelson's Choice) and a hybrid check (Pan 6479) were evaluated together with farmers in each of the villages. Farmer-selection criteria common to both villages were ear traits such as taste, long cobs, and big kernels. Other traits, such as prolificacy, early maturity, retainability of seed and dark leaves were village specific. Three varieties (Okavango, ZM 305 and ZM 501) were selected by farmers. In addition, there were no significant differences between the highest yielding varieties within each site. Farmers' choices were, therefore, consistent with selections made based on yield performance. However, some of the important traits for farmers, such as taste, were not normally prioritised, but should be considered when developing or recommending varieties. This will increase the likelihood of their adoption in marginal areas of South Africa.