The adoption of improved, high-yielding varieties of pigeonpea, groundnut and chickpea has resulted in over 40% higher grain yields and profitability for farmers in the Central Dry Zone of Myanmar. This is the key conclusion of an impact assessment study undertaken as part of CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals.
Timely access to good quality seed plays a vital role in enhancing product quality and achieving better yields for smallholder farmers. Superior cultivars, with tolerance to disease and environment shocks like droughts and floods, can further help farmers adapt to climate change , ensure food security and improve livelihoods.
The study, ‘Impact Assessment of the Village Seed Bank (VSB) program for chickpea, groundnut and pigeonpea in the Central Dry Zone of Myanmar, focussing on the production, distribution, productivity and profitability of seed of improved cultivars’, analyzes to what extent the VSB program has facilitated adoption of improved legume cultivars, increased productivity and accrued economic benefits.
Funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the MyPulses project (2014-17) focused on developing improved, high-yielding varieties of pigeonpea, groundnut and chickpea through breeding and selection. Adopting a VSB model for timely production and distribution, Myanmar’s Department of Agriculture (DoA) distributed improved seed to over 1,300 chickpea, pigeonpea and groundnut farmers from 495 villages.
To assess the efficacy and the impact of the VSB approach, the research team randomly selected 182 participating farmers from 41 villages for a survey. Quantitative and qualitative research methods were used to generate data on the volume of formal or direct (DoA-VSB farmer-DoA) and informal or indirect (VSB farmer-other farmer) spread improved cultivar seeds, technology dissemination, seed production training programs and impacts on productivity enhancement.
On average, the surveyed VSB farmers used around 50% of their land for legume cultivation. The results show the area cultivated with improved seeds increased from 154 acres in 2015-16 to 460 acres in 2017-18. If the findings were applied to the 1,343 farmers who received seed from the DoA, the area under improved cultivars would amount to 3,400 acres in 2017-18.
Key highlights of the study include:
- Benefits of the VSB program include improved access to high quality seed, access to crop and seed production knowledge to increase productivity and profitability.
- 96% of the surveyed farmers rated the improved cultivars as satisfactory, good or excellent.
- Seed production training programs were effective and beneficial to the surveyed farmers.
- Grain yields from improved VSB cultivars were 34% and 43% higher for sole and intercropped pigeonpea respectively, 55% higher for groundnut and 52% higher for chickpea.
- 87% of surveyed VSB farmers indicated their willingness to continue in the program.
The study also suggested the need for improvement in seed storage facilities, improving coverage and development of a marketing program for VSB produced seed. Increased investments and improvements may lead to better yields and income for legume farmers in Myanmar.