Maize (Zea mays L.) plays a critical role in smallholder farmers for food security in Ethiopia. So far, maize variety selection was done without much consideration of farmers' interest. However, farmers have indigenous knowledge to select best performing varieties which suit their environments. This study was aimed to identify more number of preferred maize varieties by farmers in a shorter time (than the conventional system), in accelerating their dissemination and increasing cultivar diversity in Pawe and Guangua district. Ten materials including standard check were evaluated using randomized complete block design (RCBD) design with two replication of two row plot on station and non-replicated three row plots on two farmers’ field at Pawe and Guangua district in 2013 cropping season. Both men and women participated in the selection process. At silking, farmers put termite resistance, striga resistance, disease resistance, uniformity, vigorisity, lodging and earliness as criteria during evaluation. In the overall, the top three genotypes were entry 7 (CML395/CML202//CML464), entry 10 (BH547) and entry 4 (DE-78-Z-126-3-2-2-11(g)/CML312//ILOOE-1-9-1-1-1-1-1). The evaluations mean score value for each genotype ranged from 3.6 to 4.9. Entry 7 (4.9) scored the highest value and the lowest was scored by entry 1 (3.6) and 5 (3.6). The genotypes did not show any significant varied stand count at harvest. On the other hand, significant difference was observed among genotypes for plant height, plant aspect, ear aspect, number of cobs and yield. The results revealed that farmers’ preferences in some cases coincide with the breeders’ selection. However, farmers have shown their own skill in selecting a variety for their localities. Hence, it is a paramount importance to include farmers in a variety of selection process.
Key words: Maize, participatory, varietal selection.
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