Small millet farmers increase yields through participatory varietal selection in South Asia

April 29, 2016
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Small millet farnes in India

S. Kiran / WASSAN

Greater varietal diversity in small millets is helping reduce farmers' vulnerability to adverse weather conditions.

M Karthikeyan, CSP Patil, H Samaratunga, Kamal Khadka, S Kiran, Laura Husak and Bijaya K Nayak

Small millets, despite being rich in micronutrients and dietary fibre and known for their low glycemic index and tolerance of water stress, are in decline in South Asia. Existing varieties suffer from low yield and farmers lack access to improved varieties.

The Revalorising Small Millets in Rainfed Regions of South Asia (RESMISA) research project has addressed constraints in production, distribution, and consumption of four small millet species in three countries: India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

Using participatory varietal selection, the project has brought farmers and scientists together to tackle location-specific crop breeding issues. In just three years, these teams have identified varieties that yield over 15% more than existing ones. These are now being taken up by the formal seed supply and varietal development institutions in the three countries. By the end of 2014, up to 4,000 farmers will have access to high-quality small millet seeds.

Read the story of change: Small millet farmers increase yields through participatory varietal selection in South Asia​ (PDF, 617 KB).

This document is part of a Stories of Change series that shares some of the emerging gender outcomes from research supported in Asia by the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund.