Participatory Research with Women Farmers
This film demonstrates a participatory approach to crop research which has been developed by the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in India. It aims to bring researchers closer to farmers through on-farm evaluation of pest-resistant varieties. The approach was developed to overcome the limitations of the transfer of technology approach, which is often innappropriate to the complex, risk-prone agriculture of the semi-arid tropics (07). It recognises that farmers and scientists perform complementary activities, and advocates a decentralised and participatory approach in which scientists perform a facilitating and support role (08). The research was carried out in collaboration with women farmers, who play an important role in maintaining biological diversity. First, the pest problem was diagnosed and the different varieties grown by farmers were analysed (09). In the second stage the characteristics of the farmer's varieties were matched with those of the scientist's pre-release lines. On-farm trials were then conducted in different villages (11). After harvesting the farmers carried out their own evaluation of the genetic material (14). The different varieties were ranked to elicit the farmer's preferences, according to their own criteria (16). The scientists learned that a mosaic of varieties better suit the diverse situations faced by farmers in these complex dryland environments than the uniform introduction of a standard seed (23).