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Adoption of modern varieties and rice varietal diversity on household farms in Bangladesh

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M. Tiongco
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This paper investigates the relationship between adoption of modern rice varieties and rice varietal diversity on household farms in Bangladesh. As shown in previous studies, adoption of modern varieties depends on agroecological- and input-related factors, including the availability and use of irrigation facilities, such as tubewells. Having irrigation affects the diversity index significantly and positively, which could be due to the diffusion of more modern varieties (MVs) in areas where irrigation is available and accessible.

Farmers who acquire seeds from informal sources—i.e. from their own farm or neighboring farmers—are more likely to adopt MVs. This is because there is neither a formal seed market nor a formal seed distribution system that farmers can rely on for their seeds. Almost 70 percent of the sampled farmers grow more than one variety per season.

The number of varieties planted is higher in the wet season than in the dry season: in the wet season, almost 90 percent of the sampled farmers grew more than one variety. Varietal diversity is higher in unfavorable areas, such as saline-affected areas. Farmers with larger landholdings are more likely to have higher levels of on-farm varietal diversity.

These factors held constant, farmers who have adopted MVs are less likely to have higher levels of on-farm varietal diversity. This empirical evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that cultivating MVs reduces rice varietal diversity, as MV adoption reduces production risk and increases income because of higher yields. Farmers value these traits, which should be considered when breeders develop new varieties.

Although farmers’ education was not significant in MV adoption, education is a significant determinant in rice varietal diversity in accessing information or knowledge about the traits of MVs. Educated farmers have the ability to decide which MV to grow among a wide range of choices

[Adapted from author abstract]