41. A post-green revolution strategy for the improvement of small farmer-grown common beans.
Trop. Pest Management, 35, (3), 1989, pp. 243-247
This paper outlines the post-Green Revolution strategy of the CIAT Bean
Program, then presents a case study from Costa Rica illustrating how it has worked in practice.
The Green Revolution's fertilizer responsive rice and wheat varieties had a major impact on production, but they created great controversy due to concerns about their adoption by resource poor farmers.
The short stature, highly tillering new rice varieties contributed to outbreaks of the brown planthopper in some Asian countries. The new varieties were selected for performance in favored conditions of high fertility and timely irrigation, situations that often failed to correspond to the reality faced by small farmers.
The CIAT Bean Program has focused on disease resistance breeding, with selection for performance under low input conditions and adaptation to farmers' current production systems. This strategy was chosen to make new bean technology more accessible to resource poor farmers in low income countries than had been the products of the Green Revolution approach of selecting for maximum yield under optimum high input conditions. A case study of adoption of new disease resistant bean varieties among small farmers in Costa Rica shows that the disease resistance strategy has resulted in varieties that improve productivity even in farmers' traditional shifting cultivation system. Many small farmers are finding it advantageous to intensify management in order to raise the gains from the new varieties. Such success in a disease resistance, small farm-oriented crop improvement program, depends critically on strong national agricultural research capacity, and a continuing commitment to deploy new resistance sources in locally adapted materials.
Gains made through the resistance strategy will necessarily remain vulnerable to being overcome by pathogenic variability or to newly emerging problems, but due both to the broad genetic variability upon which bean production is based, and also to the decentralized breeding strategy which targets specific genetic material to each particular production problem, production environment and grain type, such vulnerability will express itself only locally, and therefore ensure stable total production. A major part of the impact of CIAT's program may be the avoidance of substantial production reductions rather than the enjoyment of spectacular production increases.
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