Participatory Varietal Selection

Participatory varietal selection (PVS) is based on the self-evident concept that the users of varieties are their best judges and their opinion should have priority in their selection. Professionals such as plant breeders add their different knowledge and experience in this but in a non-dominant fashion. PVS usually involves varieties already on sale to the public, so retention of ownership is not a problem.

PVS comes at the end of the plant breeding cycle. It could be argued that this late stage makes it somewhat esoteric, in that the time and money to breed the variety has already been spent. However, probably at least as much money has to be spent afterwards in multiplying and promoting a new variety so it can still prevent further waste of money on unsuitable varieties or unsuitable targeting of a variety. And the trials needed for PVS can also provide useful advertising for successful varieties.

In PVS, the users of plant varieties (gardeners, households, smallholders, organic farmers, chefs etc) usually grow the varieties of a crop, flower or fruit under test in their own plots. They also harvest and consume or sell the yields as they would normally do. The users may also analyse any numerical results themselves but this often is done by plant breeders who then provide feedback to the users.

The better choices PVS achieves benefits the users, the plant breeders and any owners of the varieties because it can ensure decisions are based on the appropriate data rather than data collected in their temporary location at the plant breeding institute. This is particularly valuable in preventing mistakes and saving companies a lot of time and money over which varieties to promote and to which customers.

PVS is also often used by non-plant breeding organisations wanting to select varieties that are suited for their clients. Again, on-location trials also provide a very useful form of demonstration.

The following webpage explains how PVS has been widely used in developing countries.