Results of a recent research show the high impact of improved vegetable seed varieties on the income of farmers. The research was done in five countries that included Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, India and the Philippines.
The study surveyed the yield as well as the incomes obtained by farmers who planted improved seeds, mostly hybrids, vis a vis farmers who planted the traditional open-pollinated varieties (OPV).
The results show that net profits achieved by farmers planting hybrid seeds often increased by 50 percent. Adopters of hybrid tomatoes and chili peppers in Java, Indonesia, for instance, have obtained yields that are two times those of the non-adopters. They also made a much bigger gross profit.
For instance, 79 Indonesian farmers who planted the Permata hybrid tomato made a gross profit of US$3,607 per hectare equivalent to P155,101 in Philippine money. On the other hand, the six farmers who planted the traditional variety made a gross profit of only US$1,673 or P72,440 per hectare.
The same was true with the Indonesian farmers who planted hybrid chili pepper. They made a profit of US$4,444 or P192,425 per hectare compared to the profit of US$2,502 (P108,336) made by those who planted the open-pollinated varieties.
In Vietnam, the farmers who planted hybrid ampalaya made a gross profit of US$1,581 (P71,055.30) per hectare compared to US$984 (P42,607) for the non-adopters.
In the Philippines, farmers who planted the Casino hybrid eggplant from East-West Seed Company reported increased perceived net income of 69.1%. On the other hand, those who planted Dragon watermelon reported 20.8% as their increased perceived net income.
Why did the farmers shift to hybrid seeds? Higher yields and market demand were the major reasons cited by farmers for adopting new hybrid seed varieties. Other reasons for adoption are better disease resistance, easier crop management, improved shelf life and preferred consumer traits.
The report noted that despite the overall positive results, some farmers reported more modest increases in income or even losses after the adoption of the improved varieties. This was attributed largely to location-specific reasons such as low yields due to poor weather, insect or pest infestation or disease; poor seed or soil quality; or high input costs. Early adopters of improved seed varieties were found to be more likely to experience greater benefits than later adopters.
The researchers suggest that dissemination of technical and economic information by demonstrations of the benefits by private seed companies and government agencies are especially critical to the spread of improved seed varieties. In addition, the availability of credit is particularly important as a lack of capital, especially among smallholder and poor farmers, was identified as the major inhibitor to adoption.
The research organizations that conducted the research project included the Asian Institute of Technology (Thailand), Indonesian Vegetable Research Institute, Benguet State University (Philippines), Wageningen University and Research Center (Netherlands), Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (India) and Ho Chi Minh City Agricultural University (Vietnam). Hybrid cucumbers, chili peppers, tomato, ampalaya, watermelon, sweet corn and eggplant were among the crops studied.