Thursday, 3 October 2013

Budur Farmers take up a new Maize Variety – Kurtoe`s first CBSP starts

Chaskarpa Ashom in farmers Field

The fall has already started to pull in with agriculture fields appear brownish yellow everywhere. It is time for maize harvesting and people in eastern Bhutan are busy as bee. After six month of waiting, the time has finally come for the farmers to reap what they have sown.

People of Budur and Kupeneysa community under Menji geog in Lhuentse had been growing a local maize cultivar namely Baypoo Karpo Ashom and Kengkharpa Ashom for decades. The monotonous cropping of same cultivar has turned out to be the main factor behind low crop production of about less than 600 kg per acre.  Starting November 2012, RDC Wengkhar and the Geog Extension Centre began a formation of Community Based Seed Production (CBSP), replicating the centres experiences in CBSP from other sites in the region.

In early March of 2013, an inception and baseline meeting on CBSP formation was carried out with the community. A total of 57 farmers agreed that in the first year (2013 season), the community will grow four new varieties; Chaskarpa Ashom, Yangtsepa, Shapangma Ashom and Entry No. 33 (a promising cultivar nearing its final evaluation) as an on farm demonstration of the new cultivars. Based on which, farmers agreed to select their choice of variety through a Participatory Varietal Selection (PVS) at the end of the season.  Seeds were sown in April 2013 and the crop was managed by the farmers following the recommended practices and monitored by researchers and extension staff. A total of 53.5 acres belonging to the community was brought under cultivation with the new varieties ( Yangtsepa - 25 acres; Entry No 33 – 13 acres; Shaphangma Ashom – 11 acres and Chaskharpa Ashom – 4.5 acres).
Chaskarpa Ashom harvested in Budur
On 23rd September 2013, a PVS was carried out and crop cuts for all the four varieties were taken and assessed during a field day. All the new varieties showed good results with slight differences in yield among them but a significant difference with that of the local maize. Chaskarpa Ashom and Shafangma Ashom ,a fungal disease Gray Leaf Spots (GLS) and Turcicum Leaf Blight (TLB) tolerant varieties released in 2012 showed yields of 2.34 and 2.13 t/acre;  Entry no. 33, another promising variety with tolerance to GLS and TLB gave average yield of 2.27 t/acre  and Yangtsepa, an existing improved variety yielded 2.17 t/acre. The local maize Baypoo Karpo Ashom gave an average yield of only 0.68 t/acre .

Although crop yield is a major factor in varietal selection by farmers, other characters of cob size, color and plant height were also considered in deciding their choice.  Ap Tsheringla of Kupenesa convinced with the yield remarks that the new varieties were on time for the community while and Aum Sangmo of Budur makes specific choice of Chaskharpa Ashom for its large cobs, attractive grain color, medium plant height and high production.

Like Ap Tsheringla and Aum Sangmo, the farmers of Budur after decades of growing their local variety yielding only about 0.6 t / acre settles down with Chaskarpa Ashom (Figure 1 and 2).  And this choice of variety now starts a new beginning for them as it marks the starting of a Community Based Seed Production Program. In the coming season of 2014, the community will be growing the same cultivar Chaskharpa Ashom finally leading to the formation of the first CBSP in Lhuentse Dzongkhag.

Start up seeds of Chaskharpa Ashom will be supported by the National Maize Program at RDC Wengkhar under DRDP / WB-AF, DoA MoAF supports. The geog RNR EC will monitor and lead the program following the recommended practices in CBSP developed by the centre. Successful adoption of CBSP approach enables farmers improve their seed quality, enhance production and make them a major source of quality seeds for other farmers in the Dzongkhag.
The formation of CBSP at Budur, Lhuenste is a collaborative activity of RNR RDC Wengkhar and RNR EC Menji, Lhuenste under the National Maize Program and is supported by the Decentralized Rural Development Project (DRDP-WB / AF), Department of Agriculture, MoAF.

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