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Opening the veil on breeding and seed production to women associations in Menabe, Madagascar

RASOAZANANY Fanomezantsoa, RAFANOMEZANTSOA Germain, Zenna Negussie,

Mujawamariya Gaudiose, Ravitamanana Jean Aurelien, Randriamiarivony Michelle

Local rice varieties in the region of Menabe, West of Madagascar, are susceptible to diseases and other abiotic attacks such as drought, salinity and other climate-related constraints. Newly released rice varieties show potential for resilience and resistance to the above factors.  A gender-sensitive research conducted by the AfricaRice Breeding and Gender teams sought to confirm adaptation of these varieties and to engage seed producers into the activity, with a particular focus on women through their associations.

On the seed production, six women were identified from associations of seed producers that are linked to the center for seed multiplication established in Mahabo district, Menabe region. Each seed producer received 10 kilograms of certified seeds to undertake seed multiplication following a technical training carried out to increase the producers’ knowledge and their practices. The regional officer of the Seed Quality Control service of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (Service Officiel de Contrôle des Semences et matériel vegetal) systematically monitored the quality of the seeds produced with the purpose of issuing certification. Despite the shortage of water, each association produced between 200 to 400 kilograms, thus more than one ton of rice seeds collectively produced. The women celebrated this high harvest and explained that the rice variety produced was better than the traditional ones they were familiar to. Mavo RAZANAMARY Marie, one of the seed growers confirmed: "You saved us with this variety which is more profitable and resistant to diseases and especially the drought that hits this area”.

Seed production field in Mahabo

For the breeding work, five sites were selected to host two activities related to varietal selection. First, the varieties previously released by AfricaRice and FOFIFA (the national research institution) in the region of Atsimo Andrefana were demonstrated. This region has the same ecological conditions as the region of Menabe, hence the varieties had high adoption potential. In addition to these varieties, Red rice varieties were also added in the demonstration, these are the FOFIFA 194, 195, 196, mainly because of their higher nutritional quality value. However, these were released for the high lands, cold regions. Secondly, additional breeding lines proposed for varietal release in Menabe were also established in national performance trials (NPT). The women associations at the front, and other rice farmers, in the area, were invited to participate in the selection of varieties according to their preference in both the demonstration and NPT sites. The farmers were happy to participate in this selection because it is an opportunity to get acquainted with the potential yield and visible traits of the new varieties compared to their local varieties. The participation of women was respectively of 66 % (in a total of 297 farmers) and 52% (in a total of 132 farmers). The results of selection are illustrated in the figures.

Figure 1. Men and women’s preference of varieties in demonstration plots

The most preferred varieties were indeed the ones released in the region of Atsimo-Andrefana presenting higher yield than the traditional varieties; While men and women equally show preference for FOFIFA 188, some differences between men and women were noted for other preferred varieties, although these are not significantly large. The least preferred are the red rice varieties which had lower tillering capacity due to non-suitability of the varieties to the ecological conditions of the region.

Figure 2. Men and women’s preference of varieties in NPT

For the varieties in pipeline for release, the local check, namely the variety Sebota 70 attracts no interest of farmers due to its lowest yield and susceptibility to diseases compared to the newly proposed materials. There are differences between men and women on the preferred varieties in trials. However, these are not significantly large.

Although the selection of farmers is mainly oriented on the yield and disease resistance, a description of the characteristics of the varieties indicates latent traits that inform the preference.

Table 1. Description of the main varieties preferred by male and female farmers

Faced with the lack of irrigation water, which is the biggest challenge in the Menabe region, both on the demonstration plots and varietal trials, the participants were very happy to observe varieties that are high-yielding and stress-tolerant. Indeed, the selected varieties of rice show medium to high tolerance drought and tolerance to salinity. With these traits, in addition to the high yield and grain length, their potential for adoption by male and female farmers is high in the region of Menabe.

In the short span of September to December 2023, with more than 300 participants majority of whom were women, farmers were satisfied and believed that they can obtain quality seeds produced locally. The women who participated in both exercises could clearly see the link between the new varieties and seed production. They expressed their readiness to continue the activity mainly to address the problem in the region of lack of quality seed. A request for high-yielding red rice varieties adapted to the zone was indicated by farmers to replace their local red rice varieties.

This work was carried out under the CGIAR GENDER Impact Platform, which is grateful for the support of CGIAR Trust Fund contributors:” 


Seed production field in Mahabo, selection of varieties


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