Crop cafeteria is a replicated trial to promote the diffusion of most prevalent traditionally grown rice varieties, climate resilient stress-tolerant rice varieties (STRVs), state/national level released varieties, private sector varieties, high yielding rice variety, promising lines and premium quality rice (PQR) variety among the key stakeholders of the rice value chain.
- To accelerate the uptake and sustainable adoption of the STRVs and premium quality rice (PQR) variety at key selected locations
- To engage private and public seed sector players, and their market channels like distributors, dealers, FPOs, associated agro-vets/extension agents in evaluation of different varieties against STRVs/PQR variety
- To create linkages in mainstream seed system
- To strengthen learning and adoption behavior by systematic evaluation of multiple varieties in laid out crop cafeteria
- To create mass awareness and sensitization about different STRVs/PQR variety, their characteristics and performances
- To promote the seed and varietal replacement for improved productivity of rice in the region
- To help in generating seed demand for multiple varieties
Selection of site for crop-cafeteria: Based on the above defined objectives, the first key activity for client oriented rice EXPO is to find a suitable site to establish the crop cafeteria. These crop cafeterias would serve as the platform for learning, assessment, linkages and awareness-creation among the key seed stakeholders / clients. The criteria for selecting site are following:
- At a central location and known area, preferably a government /KVK farm or community land in a village
- The location need to be close to road, easily accessible, well connected and visible
- The land need to be levelled and good representative of the soil of topography of the region /block
Selection of varieties for crop cafeteria: In the crop cafeteria all the important varieties and the introduced STRVs would be grown in different replication plots (of equal size, and nearly 3 replications for each variety). Nearly 24 varieties (total) would be grown in those mini plots in the site selected.
Management practices for crop cafeteria: It is very important to select varieties and also to carry out all the operations in such a manner for each variety that the flowering of all variety coincide together. In order to do so, the varieties need to be sown and managed in staggered pattern through a back-date planning based on their total duration. A long duration variety will be sown first and then the short duration variety. Based on the sowing dates, appropriate management practices will be followed. IRRI team will closely monitor the trial. Uniform management practices, including, spacing, fertilizer, irrigation, weedicide, pesticide, and other cultural management are followed for all the varieties in both dates of transplanting and all three replicated plots.
The crop cafeteria would be labelled with geo-tags, specifying each plot, variety and the entire layout, so that any visitor can identify the variety easily and observe. These tags will comprise of basic information of all the varieties grown, which may not be observed directly at one point of time. (e.g. the total duration or total yield potential etc.)
Monitoring and Observations: A detailed score-card would be used. This score-card will comprise of all the key observable traits and also non-observable traits. Based on these traits, all the key stakeholders can rate and evaluate the variety, in a participatory manner in a group to judge different trade-offs, preferences etc.
Organizing the Rice EXPO: Once the varieties have reached close to the harvesting stage (grain filling completed), the EXPO will be organized on a suitable date by inviting and ensuring participation of all key stakeholder (approximately 30 participants per event).
The inception of the EXPO would be with a classroom seminar, where the entire idea, layout, varieties and process of evaluation would be explained to all the stakeholders. It would be participatory in nature with rich information sharing and discussion. Based on the preliminary discussion, a field visit to the cafeteria would be organized for all the stakeholders. Based on duration, the varieties will be exhibited and evaluated by organizing two participatory varietal evaluation event at crop maturity by inviting a group of stakeholders for their own evaluation and selection of varieties as per their agro-ecological environment. It is a tool to strengthen the formal and informal seed system of Assam.
Holding the evaluation score cards, each participant will observe each variety and mark the scores based on their observations. They will visit more than one replication plot to confirm their scorings. After each one of them individually or in group done with the scoring would now discuss in the group to arrive on consensus on final scoring for each of the trait and gradually analyzing each variety against each other. This would end of with a group presentation and sharing of their evaluation and take on the STRVs/PQR variety against same category other variety.The score cards /group decisions would be verified and confirmed by the state agriculture department and the highest scored varieties would be promoted through main stream varietal programmes in state.
- On-spot varietal evaluation by stakeholders (private seed growers, extension functionaries, farmers, farmer producer organizations, rice millers, scientists, DoA-ATMA and other Govt. officials etc.)
- Varietal selection by participants on the basis of important yield parameters, grain type /quality and other crop characteristics
- Expediting the process of varietal replacement/STRVs and PQR variety adoption by the on-spot varietal preference and adoption.
- Creating awareness about STRVs and PQR variety
- Helping implementing partners AAU & DoA-ATMA to choose the best variety for their region, and further recommendation for large scale testing/release.
After completion of the experiment, results will be submitted to the DoA, and especially to state seed certification agency (ASSCA) as per guidelines. Score cards indicating the performance of different varieties according to the likings of evaluating participants in crop cafeteria events, are to be endorsed by AAU and DoA, for future use in seed indent and introduction /release of new STRV’s and PQR variety in the state.The results of actual agronomic data, farmer’s score sheets and formal seed-system stakeholders’ score sheets are pooled to arrive at final decision.