Rice varietal cafeterias: An effective extension tool for promoting climate-resilient rice

The rice varietal cafeteria provides a space where farmers and other stakeholders interact, discuss, give feedback, learn, and decide on their varietal preferences and choices.

Traditional crop varietal cafeterias (or crop cafeterias) facilitate the scientific evaluation and selection processes of new varieties by farmers. The concept was promoted across India by the agricultural extension center Krishi Vigyan Kendra (“farm science center).”  These are generally conducted on government land or farmers’ fields where the farmers and stakeholders themselves can compare and select one or more suitable varieties that have been identified as suitable for growing on their land.

Crop cafeterias replicate researcher-designed trials but can be managed by the farmers themselves with training and orientation. The farmers can follow the normal crop establishment and management practices in their locality but are also encouraged to avoid protecting the varieties against prevailing harsh environmental conditions and pest and diseases to highlight their hardiness over locally grown varieties.  Aside from environmental stress tolerance and pest and disease resistance, the farmers also get to choose varieties based on agro-morphological traits and yield and quality characteristics.