Contribution of rice culture to on-farm management of diversity and knowledge in Nepal

Contribution of rice culture to on-farm management of diversity and knowledge in Nepal

How cultural knowledge of rice landraces contributes to livelihoods in Nepal

The paper analyses the ways Nepalese "rice culture" contributes to maintaining crop landraces and knowledge. Taking a livelihoods perspective it discusses the importance of local practices using case studies from three contrasting villages to look at how farmers value landraces, describe ecosystems or niches and interact with each other.

The authors find that:

  • Farmers across villages describe ecosystems using the same functional descriptors. The primary descriptor for ecosystems is soil moisture. Farmers characterise ecosystems further against soil colour, texture, scent and sometimes with soil acidity. Sometimes indicator species are also used. Farmers’ ways of using larger descriptive units and scales contrast with researchers descriptions of ecosystems according to soil analysis data.
  • Landraces are grown primarily under marginal and stressed environments. Improved varieties, however are grown with high level of inputs such as irrigation and fertilisers although some landraces are sometimes also cultivated with inputs as improved varieties.
  • Landraces are grown by farmers for a range of economical, ecological, social and religious reasons. Farmers make rational decisions on which landraces or modern varieties to cultivate based on how well they suit local conditions, fulfil local needs, are competitive with other options and resemble traits preferred locally. The complementary roles of crop landraces and knowledge becomes vital to livelihoods, particularly in areas that are diverse, complex, and which are isolated from a variety of services related to market and extension.
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