Insect resistant maize for Africa (IRMA) project aims at developing and deploying insect resistant maize varieties to reduce grain losses due to insect pests. As part of incorporating farmers’ perceptions to improve the adoption of the developed varieties, participatory approaches were adopted. The paper analyses farmer’s preferences of maize germplasm developed through conventional breeding. This paper uses data collected from evaluations conducted at the end of 2006 April and October rains season. Nine stem borer resistant maize varieties were evaluated alongside six commercial checks in the moist transitional zones (East and West) at taselling and harvest stage, while in the dry transitional zone and dry mid altitude zones, six new varieties were evaluated together with four commercial checks at harvest stage. Each variety was assessed on a scale of 1(very poor) to 5 (very good) based on key criteria generated in earlier group discussions with farmers and overall score. Data was analyzed using ordinal regression model of Social Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). At the Dry Transitional (DT) zone, CKIR06007 and CKIR06008 were more preferred to the checks based on overall score. CKIR06008 was also more preferred on yield and tolerance to insect pest criteria, while CKIR04002, CKIR06009, and CKIR04003 were perceived more superior to local check based on tolerance to insect pests. In the DM altitude zone, CKIR06008 was better on yield attribute. Three varieties namely CKIR04002, CKIR06007, CKIR06009 were superior on stem borer tolerance attribute. In moist transitional zone Embu only CKIR06005 was more preferred (p<0.01) to the check at harvest stage in April 2006 and October rains season based on early maturity. While there was no preference for the new varieties at vegetative stage in Embu in October rains 2006 season, a number of new varieties CKIR06001, CKIR06002, CKIR06003, CKIR06004, and CKIR06005 were more preferred based on early maturity at harvest in October rains 2006 season. In the moist transitional zone (west) CKIR06004 had good attributes in terms of cob size at taselling stage in April rains 2006. We conclude that farmers perceive some varieties to have good tolerance to insect pests in addition to good yield and early maturity, which are critical attributes to the farmers in the adoption of new varieties.
Key words: Farmers perceptions, maize, stem borer tolerant varieties, ordinal regression.
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