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Effects of farmers' seed management on performance and adaptation of pearl millet in Rajasthan, India

Vom Brocke K., Weltzien E., Christinck A., Presterl T., Geiger H.H.. 2003. Euphytica, 130 : p. 267-280.

DOI: 10.1023/A:1022830925717

Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum [L.] R.Br.) is the staple food and fodder crop of farmers in the semi-arid areas of north-west India. The majority of farmers in western Rajasthan depend on their own seed production and employ different seed production strategies that involve different levels of modern-variety introgression into landraces as well as different selection methods. This study quantifies the effects of three seed management strategies on environmental adaptation and trait performance. Forty-eight entries representing farmers' grain stocks - pure landraces or landraces with introgressed germplasm from modern varieties - as well as 33 modern varieties, multiplied by breeders or farmers, were evaluated in field trials at three different locations over two years under varying drought-stress conditions. Results indicate that the plant characteristics employed by farmers in describing adaptive value and productivity is an effective approach in discriminating the type of millet adapted to stress and non-stress conditions. It was also found that introgression of modern varieties (MVs) leads to populations with a broader adaptation ability in comparison to pure landraces or MVs alone - but only if MV introgression is practised regularly and is combined with mass panicle selection. Under high-rainfall conditions, farmer grain stocks with MV introgression show similar productivity levels as modern varieties. Under lessening rainfall, pure landraces show, in tendency, higher grain yields. In conclusion, farmers' seed management could form an integral part of participatory breeding programs.

Mots-clés : pennisetum glaucum; semence; variété; gestion; agriculteur; inde; rajasthan

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