Integrating new soybean varieties for soil fertility management in smallholder systems through participatory research: Lessons from western Kenya
ABSTRACT The aim of this paper was to understand the process of selecting soybean (Glycine max [L.] Merr.) promiscuous varieties by smallholders for soil fertility management in western Kenya. Eight varieties were screened on 2.5 m × 3 m plots that were managed according to farmers’ practices and evaluated through participatory monitoring and evaluation approaches. Farmers selected preferred varieties and explained their reasons (criteria) for making the selections. Seven promiscuous varieties had better yields than a local one. Farmers’ selection criteria fell into three broad categories relating to yield, appearance and labour. Selection criteria were not primarily aimed to improve soil fertility. This created a challenge to embed the new varieties within the local farming systems for soil fertility improvement. This study shows that farmer criteria for selecting varieties overlapped with scientific procedures. We propose co-research activities targeted to strengthen farmer experimentation skills, their understanding on Nitrogen addition, and the role of Phosphorus.