Social components of 'informal' seed systems and participatory plant breeding (PPB) programmes: The case of Sorghum and pearl millet in Eastern lower slopes of Mount Kenya
Rono, Bernard K
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Informal (farmer based) seed system is an important source of seed among small scale farmers especially in the marginal zones of developing countries. However, few studies have taken into account social organisation in acquisition and diffusion of seed. The main objective of this exploratory study is to establish increased adoption levels of improved sorghum and pearl millet varieties in Eastern lower slopes of Mount Kenya. Four hundred household interviews were conducted using an anthropological approach. Our key findings were as follows: Firstly, informal seed system is an important source of sorghum and pearl millet seed. Own saved seed was the lead source from which farmers acquired seed for the season the survey was undertaken constituting 92.9% for sorghum and 92.3% for pearl millet. The lead initial seed source for sorghum and pearl millet was kinship and affinity constituting 56.6% and 53.4% respectively. However, the lead Source for subsequent seed replacements was local trade markets. Secondly, within the 'informal' seed system, seed is exchanged in a organised way. Third, farmers' social organisation, including clans and marriage, is reflected in farming practices. Social organisation determined seed sources, seed diffusion, varieties cultivated as well as seed replacement sources. The implication of this study is that PartiCipatory Plant Breeding (PPB) programmes could take into consideration social organisation of farmers hence a socially based PPB.