Participatory Evaluation of Wheat and Barley Germplasm Collections in Iran, 2009-2011
There is increasing recognition that biodiversity is an essential approach to adaptation to climate change. Preserving landraces in gene banks, while acknowledged to play an important part in conservation, has also been critiqued in cases where it is the sole or major conservation strategy.
Iranian farmers evaluated, in their own fields and management conditions, landraces of barley and wheat from the ICARDA gene bank. Scientists and facilitators captured and documented qualitative knowledge elicited by the farmers and measured a number of agronomically important characters. This effort led to the following outcomes:
- a number of the (wheat) landraces were directly integrated into the national breeding program;
- farmers are now experimenting with different mixtures of the landraces;
- they have established the first farmers’ seed bank in Iran to keep all of the landraces they evaluated; and,
- the information – and seed samples – from the participatory evaluations was returned to the gene bank to be integrated with the already existing passport information and shared with other scientists.