Keywords: Farmers’ knowledge, Rice, Landrace diversity, Sustainable development
The study of the diversity of cultivated plant populations maintained by farmers is of great importance for evolutionary and conservation biology. In the present study, we assessed the landrace diversity of rice grown in a part of Manipur, India with reference to socio-economic characteristics of the households and their knowledge systems. Over the period 2009–2011 information was collected following the participatory rural appraisal methodology including transect walks, personal interviews, key informant interviews and group discussions. In all 14 cultivars were grown by the sampled households during the period and most varieties had some meaning in local language. Farmers distinguished cultivars in terms of the colour of grain/husk, stickiness of cooked grains, food quality after puffing and boiling, length of maturity period and responses to pests, pathogens, fertilizers and hydrological conditions. Relative cropped area of different cultivars varied during the study period. The local people followed a set of social customs for the management of the seed resources. None of the farmers listed any consistent trend of climate change or change in yields with time. Increasing stress on off-farm economy, lack of recognition to the socio-cultural capital in agricultural/rural development programmes and lack of specific policies providing incentive for on-farm conservation are causing depletion of agrobiodiversity.
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