Using citizen science models to identify key traits and winning varieties
NextGen uses a TRICOT (Triadic Comparison of Technology) model that engages farmers as engages farmers as ‘farmer researchers’ in the testing or validation of new crop varieties and their traits. Participants are intentionally selected to represent local social diversity and gender.
The Survey Division has found that it is counter-productive to focus on “what women want” as there are rarely identifiable traits only attributed to women. There needs to be a shift away from gender traits to thinking with more complexity about social differences. More time needs to be allocated to testing, refining, and adapting robust social and on-farm research methods to set breeding priorities.
The Survey Division’s role is to develop actionable breeding targets for product profiles that meet diversity and demand. Survey division oversees country specific studies on user typologies, associated trait preferences and descriptors, relative and economic weights of traits and large scale on farm performance evaluation. These studies are complemented with gender focused research on evaluating the economic value of gender-responsive breeding, foresight analysis and intrahousehold studies on trait prioritization. Acting like the marketing arm of a private seed company, it translates research from our partner project RTBfoods, and conducts additional research to identify traits preferred by farmers for selected product quality. This ensures that NextGen breeding is demand-driven and inclusive.
Adoption of new varieties developed under NextGen in Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and the rest of Africa will ultimately be determined by the acceptability of these varieties to the diversity of farmers, processors and consumers that use them. Furthermore, for breeding programs with poverty alleviation and development goals, accelerated genetic gain should translate to gender equitable benefits for smallholder farmers.
NextGen Annual Meeting Survey Division update