Participatory Approach to Variety Selection Using Soybean Production in Ghana as a Model
In the past, soybean varieties released in Ghana were selected primarily for grain yield potential, earliness, seed viability and low phosphorus tolerance. However, most of these varieties are not resistant to pod shattering, resulting in high grain losses. In order to identify traits farmers consider most important when deciding which soybean varieties to adopt, a participatory variety selection approach was used to evaluate varieties in two locations (Nyankpala and Wa) in the Guinea savanna zone of Ghana during the 2010 and 2011 cropping seasons. Twelve medium and 14 early maturing varieties were evaluated. Farmers’ variety selection criteria and ranking did not differ across locations and gender groups. Additionally, four most preferred traits by farmer (grain yield, pod shattering, earliness and pods per plant) out of 12 traits were considered very important by farmers at both locations. In some instances, farmers’ preference for the best varieties was not exactly in line with researchers’ selection. Best four ranked varieties (TGx 1799-8F, TGx 1834-5E, TGx 1445-3E and TGx 1844-22E) were preferred by farmers because they possess positive attributes such as higher grain yields, resistance to pod shattering, numerically more pods per plant and enhanced ability to control Striga hermonthica. These varieties were later released as Suong-Pungun, Afayak, Songda and Favour, respectively for commercial production throughout Ghana. Consequently, soybean breeders should incorporate farmers’ preferred traits in selecting varieties in the breeding process in order to increase likelihood of adoption of the varieties.