J.W. Kamau, J.M. Kinama, S.N. Nguluu, Lutta Muhammad, J.B.A. Whyte, S.M. Ragwa, E.N. Migwa and P.M. Simiyu
Two promising varieties of cassava, KME 1, selected from the local germplasm and KME 61 (TMS 63397-9) from the 1ITA collection, were identified and evaluated by farmers in the semi-and areas of eastern Kenya. A local variety was included for comparison during the farmer assessment. Participatory rural appraisal (PRA) techniques were used to assess the social acceptance by farmers of the two varieties. The evaluations were conducted by women and men farmers in four sites covering three districts. The two new varieties were assessed and compared with the local farmer variety in three categories; raw, roasted and boiled. For each variety in each category the following criteria were nominated by the farmers for use in the evaluation: root appearance, taste, texture and fibre. Results of PRA assessment showed that there were differences within the categories. Variety KME 1 was rated best while raw, KME 61 was best while roasted and the farmers variety best when boiled. The farmer’s local variety scored higher points than the other two varieties for its root appearance, taste, texture and fibre qualities. The farmer assessment results are not consistent with yield results from the cassava breeding program. In the National Dryland Research Centre, Katumani which showed that KME 1 was higher yielding than KME 61 producing root yields of 55 t/ha and 47 t/ha respectively. Both varieties had good root quality, medium cyanogenic potential (4.0) and tolerant to cassava mosaic disease (CMD). In contrast, farmers’ varieties are low yielding 6-8 t/ha late maturing and susceptible to insect pests and diseases. This study demonstrates that farmers consider different criteria from those of scientists when selecting varieties and underscore the importance of involving them in varietal development and testing.