The introduction, testing, promotion and release of a rice variety, BG 1442, in Nepal were examined in relation to existing policies governing these procedures and to how more participatory approaches could benefit food security. From 1998 to 2006, participatory varietal selection (PVS) was used to test BG 1442 and other candidate rice varieties in the spring (Chaite) rice-growing season (February to June) and in the main season (June to November). The testing of BG 1442 commenced 11 years after it was first introduced into Nepal in 1987 by the national rice research programme (NRRP). Following its initial acceptance by farmers, it was widely disseminated from 1998 by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the low altitude region of Nepal called the terai in projects funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), UK. This dissemination was done using a method termed informal research and development (IRD) where many small packets of seed were distributed without fertiliser or pesticides, the only additional input being a description of varietal characteristics on an enclosed leaflet. From 2001 to 2008, various assessments were made of its extent of adoption and its impact on livelihoods. In a randomised survey of households in 10 districts, BG 1442 increased from not being used at all in 1997 to being grown by about 20% of the surveyed rice farmers by 2008. It was grown both in the Chaite and the main season and was well adapted to the rainfed-upland and medium-land rice ecosystems. The variety was grown from the far west to the far east of low-altitude Nepal by resource-poor farmers. IRD was important in accelerating adoption and improving food security as it was by far the most important external source of seed for farmers. Prior to the adoption of BG 1442, farmers who did not harvest sufficient rice to last their households for 12 months increased rice self sufficiency by over 2 months (25% more). Those households that sold surplus grain and who grew BG 1442 increased grain sales by 600 kg (25% more) in the Chaite season and by 370 kg (24% more) from main season cultivation.
- participatory varietal selection (PVS)
- informal research and development (IRD)
- variety release
- food security
- policy change