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«Biotechnology-Assisted Participatory Plant Breeding: Complement or Contradiction? PPB Monograph No. 3 Ann Mane Thro and Charlie Spillane 1 7 ...»

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A key institutional factor in PPB is th e point of control or decisionmaking. Who decides the objectives, de termines the approach, and specifies what rcsults and data are needed? This will differ depending on whether farmers are invited by researchers to join breeding rcsearch initiated by formal prograrns ('formal-led PPB" or whether scientists seek lo support farmers' own systems of breeding, varietal selection, and seed multiplication and dissemination ('farmer-Ied PPB1Formal-led PPB usually has certain distinguishing characteristics.

It tends to be strongly linked to formal variety release and seed disscmination systems. It is usu ally re qu ired to provide feedback to the rest of th e formal sector, implying the use of standard experimental Fanner Participatory Research and Plan! Breedl1lg design and ana1ysLs. And it is expected to develop and test variet..ies or methods that will be applicable beyond an individual community. In farmer-Ied PPB, farmers bear the main responsibility, and orton the costs, of conducting experiments and selecting and disseminating preferred materials. The objectives are first and foremost local, any broader applicabiJity being fonuitou s. And there is no obligabon to provide information or germplasm to external or formal systems (Sperling et al, 2000).

Sorne commentators express skep tici sm that 'indigenous' farmer breeding practices can really be found {e.g., P. Richards, pers. comm.}.

However. by saving seed and resowing it the following season, many farmers practice what amounts to mass selection of landraces or improved varieties of grain crops. There is sorne evidence that farrners 'rustica te' both hybrids and improved open-pollinated varieties through such practices (Bellón and Brush, 1994; Wood and Lenné, 1997;

Louette et al, 1997). D. Duvick (pers. cornm.) notes that the reproductive biology of a crop (Le., whether it is self- or open-pollinated) has a majar bearing on the ease with which farmcrs can conduct plant breeding (in thc sense of recombination follo\Vcd by selection of u seful genotypes).

For instance, saving the seed of an open-pollinated variety of maize does not co nserve the variety as surely as saving the seed of pure lines of wheat or rice, which are self-pollinating. Open-poJlina ted varieties lose their characteristics if selection is not rigorou sly mainta ined.

Experience suggests that farmers achieve variable results when they try to maintain the quality of open-pollinated varieties. Research in China on the impact and subsequent history of open-pollinated maize varieties developed by the Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maiz y Trigo (CIMMYT) (e.g., Song, 1998) sho\Vs that farmers need support in clcveloping improved selection systems if they are to regenerate deterioratecl open-pollinated varieties (N. Roling, pers. comm.).

Plant breeding projects typically ¡n elude the following stages (modified from SchneIl, 1982):

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Biotechnolagies may havc implications for all of these stages. They may broaden t.he range af objectives that can be considered, making possible an objective that cannat be pursucd through conventional breeding. They may increase the range of genetic variation available.

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They can enhan cc th e accura cy an d efficiency of selection and testin g.

They m ay bring spedal regu latory and marketing conside rations into play. And they can speed up the multiplication and dissemination of new planting material s (Box 1). Co nsequently, farmer participation in biotechnology-assisted plant breeding can certa inly inerease farmers' options, but it also entail s a necd to educa te farmc rs, n ol only about th e o ption s themsclvc s but a1so abo ut th e implicatio ns of choosing a biotcchnology appraach.

PPB involvcs farmcr participation at various s tages where it has flol been traditi onal in con ven tional breedi ng, notably in stages 2 and

3. Farmers can a lso participate more fully in stage 1, th eir input to which in th e past h a s often been limited lO su rveys of their farming systems. In ad ditio n, they ca n playa role flot on ly in the ¡a ter but also the earlier pha ses of stage 4, usually the preserve of farmal research ers in the past. In stage S, fa rmers may participate in both the form al an d the informal seed dehve ry system.

Various framewa rks have becn developed for analyzing and eval u ati ng the pa rti cipa tian of cnd u se rs or clients in agricultural research (e.g., Paul, 1986; Biggs 1989 ; Okali et al, 199 4 ; Farrington, 1995). In practi ce, three kinds of parti cipation are faund: consultativc

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A PPB schcme using anthcr culture has beeo proposcd for the di sscminalion of rainfcd rice in eastero India. The scheme involves the use of doubled haploid (DH )line s, which are uniform yet offer a wide range of phenolypic diversity from which farmers can select under lheir own conditions. lt is essentially a modified version of hulk and pcdigree me thods, UUl delivers a wider range of individually uniform progeny to farmers' fields more rapidly (L e., al lhe F I -F 2 rather than lhe F4 -F6 generations).

The scheme has rhe following stages:

Characterization of parents Hybridization and generatíon of F I progeny (20-30 crosses) Production of OH populatíons from Fl or F 2 gen erations, u sing anther cu ltu re Evaluation of DHs by farmers Overall performance assessment Replicated yield trials of the mos t promising DHs.





Fanners keen to gel access to the seed oC improved crop vaneties qu ick1y should find such a scheme very a ttractive.

SOURCE, Sarkarung et al (1996).

Farmer Participawry Research and PlanJ 8reeding (ínConnalion sharíng), collaboratíve (task sharing). and collegía! (sharing responsibility, decision making, and accountability) (adapted from Biggs, 1989; Sperling el al, 2000), The kind oC particípation al each research slage hasa!so been examíned (Farríngton and Martín, 1988; Bíggs, 1989;

Sperling el al, 2000),

Rationales for Farmer Participation: Product or Process?

The participation of end users in research (inc1uding plant breeding) can either (i) be a means towards an end (that of improving research products) or (ii) be an end in itself. In the tatter case, which could be caBed the 'process' approach to participation, the emphasis is not so much 00 achieviog defined outcomes as on facilitating a process of empowerment, with the c1ients considered as agents rather than objects (Cornwall and Jewkes, 1995; R. Gerster, pers. comm.). In the former case, known as the 'functional approach', the tendency is to focus on a problem and generate solutions-as quickly as possible. In PPB, the functional approach wou1d lead to the end being de lined as the development of better adapted erop varieties more closely tailored to small-scale farmers' needs, whereas the process a pproach would aim to empower farmers to develop the ir skills as pla nt breeders. The functional approach is more common in th e formal prograrns of government, research institutes, and the pri vate sector, while the process approach tends to be more common among non -government organizations (NGOs) working for community development (Farrington and Nelson, 1997), Process or empowering approaches tend to lead to broadly focussed research on a wide range of themes, since the live lihood conslraints identified as research targets through such approaches are rarely sectoror technology-specific (Farrington et al, 1993) and the choice of themes tends to lie more firrnly in the hands of farmers. This has implications for the mechanisms nceded to enable participatory research to intcract with plant biotechnology research, which typically has highly specific objectives. In theory, biotechnology research could support both the functional and the process approaches, but diife rent biotechnologies might be employed and different products would doubtless result, sinee the functional approach tends to lead to more upstream research whereas the process approach more orten avoids this. In praclice, most current biotechnology research is targeted toward s efficiency objectives, using a supply-driven approach.

The distinction betwccn functional and empowerment-oriented participatory research may not always be clear cut. Research that begins with functional objectives can over time lead to empowennent as well.

Ideal1y, the information generated through participatory methods, and the process o[ generating that information, builds local capacity in planning and organizing activities. An example of this outcome lS the work oC the Unión de Asociaciones de Trabajadores Agricolas, Biotechnology-Assisted PPB: Complement or Contradiction?

Productores y Procesadores de Yuca (UATAPPYl, a cassava processing cooperative in Ecuador, which survived without external support through 2 years of natural disaster to contribute its own proposals to the design of a recovery plan (Thro et al, 1999b; see Box lO). Farmers' groups organized around commodities, such as cocoa production or cassava processing groups, are more Iikely to become involved in technology developrnent and hcnce in Cunctional or efficiency-oriented participatory research (Healy, 1987). Such groups may find it easier to in te ract with re search institutions that are aIso commodity-based. As Carmers beco me familiar with tbe poten tial benefits oC research, their mterests may shiCt Crom a process to a Cunc tional approach, as lhey identiCy n eeds lhat might be met through technology dcvelopment. This is especially th e case Cor more market-oriented Carmers' organizations (Tendler, 1994; Collion, 1995; Collion and Rondot, 1998).

Since most PPB is stiU experimen tal, it is nat yet clear whether the two approaches differ inherently in terms oC the scaIe on which they can be applied and hence the impact that can be expected Crom them. It may be that smaller projects can be combined to create a mosaic oC community-based activities covering rnuch oC the countrysidc (C. Iglesias, pers. comm.). The scale issuc also has major implications [or the cost-benefit analysis of participatory rescarch. Such research is a lready costly in tcrms of time and other rcsources (Farrington et al, 1993; Farri ngton, 1997) and may become even more so when biotcchnologies are involved. Functional participatory research may be possible on a large scale, but this is less likely to be the case for empowcring research (Farrington, 1997), in which the frequency and inten sity oC contact between participanls and externa! supporters oC the process may be critical. There is a trade-off between the scale of Carmer participation and its depth or intensity. It has been suggested that sorne kinds oC NGO may have a comparative advantagc over state institutions in promoting greater depth of participation (Farrington and Biggs, 1990; Okali et al, 1994). while state institutions may have both the capaeity and the incentive to promote wider participation (Farrington, 1997).

Si nce resource -poor farmers operate under a wide range of environmental, social, and eeonomic conditions (Francis, 1986), it is unlikcly that single technical solutions can be developed to suit a11 of them (Ashby and Sperling, 1994; Chambers, 1983, 1987). Plant breeding has been highly successful in devcloping improved erop varieties suitable Cor large arcas (Smale, 1997; D. Duvick, L. Sani nt, pers. comms.). However, many such varieties have also been rejectcd as unsuitable by sorne groups oC Carmcrs (Clawson and Hoy, 1979; Ziegler, 1986). The costs ofthese cases ofnon-adoption can be high (Carr, 1989).

Resourcc- poor Carmcrs are considered more likely to adopt tcchnology ir they are offered a range of prototype products from which Fanner participazory Research and Plant Breeding to ch oose according to their n eed ~a 'basket o( option s', in lhe words of Chambers (1987)- and which they can tai tor lo their specific circumstances (Ashby and Sperting, 1994). The basket may con sist of different plant ideotypes, for example. or diITe ring combinations and levcls of fertilizer or pcsticide applications. This 'prototype dive rsity' approach, which is a lso called 'decentralized technology development' (Biggs, 1995), is considered by ma ny to be th e most cost-effective for meeting the needs of farme rs in co mplex, ri sk-prone environments (Ashby an d Spe rlin g, 1994; Sperling et a t, 1993; Sperlin g a nd Berkowitz, 1994). To crea te a useful basket of options, researchers must ha ve a relatively good idea of the broad range o( clien ts' need s and constra ints al the outset of th e techn ology develop me nt process.

These a ims a re best m et through participa tory research th at involves Carme rs in both the diagnostic and the technology developmen t stages of the research process.

Farmer Participation: Upstream versus Downstream Research?

At what points in the research spectru m ca n fa rm ers or other e nd u sers interact with biotechnologists to ma ke researc h a nd technology deveJopment more client-driven? Calls for clie nt-dríven research te nd to focu s attention and resources on 'downstrearn' applied or adaptive researc h (Ash by amt Sperling, 1994). Not a ll research can be clientdri ven: basic research to ¡ncrease knowledge is unl ikely to be. Yet in the long term it too confers economíc a d va n tages on lhe countrie s that fund it (Wong, 1996), because at teast sorne of the knowledge eventually gives rise to new technological options of one kind or another.

For sorne (e.g., J. Lewis, C. Martincz, K. Tarnrnin ga, pers. cornms.).

farmers' parlicipa tion is secn as most u seful a t the inilial priority setti ng and fin al teslÍng stages of research (1 and 4, a boye);

biotechnology research per se, which is usually co nduc ted a t stages 2 a nd 3, does nol require it. According to this school of thought, farmers can have a meaningful input to definíng n eed s and problems, se tting priorities, and evaIuating possible re search a pproaches, in collaboration with scientists. Once the rescarch age nd a has been established, mu ch of the upstream and mid -strea m research, including bio tec hnology development, can then be co nduc tcd by scientí sts, who retum to farmers only at the end of the resea rch process, to obtain their reactions to th e research produ ct.

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