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ON-FARM PARTICIPATORY VARIETY TESTING — PROTOCOLS (May, 2012)

On-farm trials are an effective way to improve client-orientation of breeding programs by formalizing farmer involvement in the variety testing process. They can also be an important first step in variety dissemination, since data from on-farm trials are usually required for official varietal release, and farmers will be keen to obtain planting materials of varieties that perform well in trials. Standardization of procedures is important for easy and meaningful analysis and presentation of results. However, circumstances, including population density, the presence of organized farmer groups, their previous experience with sweetpotato, and budgets can dictate varying approaches to on-farm variety testing. The set of procedures below present a standard method for on-farm sweetpotato variety testing to be used (with slight variation) by sweetpotato breeding programs in SSA during the 2011/2012 season. Often there is a mismatch of what the researchers and farmers (end users) consider as the best variety. This probably explains the low adoption rates for some of the research generated varieties and the dominance of farmer varieties in some areas. There are also cases of varieties adopted by farmers having previously been rejected by the breeding programs. On-farm variety testing protocols is aimed to bridge the gap during the variety development.