Can Agricultural Citizen Science Improve Seed Systems
Using on-farm triadic comparisons of technologies (tricot) for crowdsourcing participatory variety selection is a new citizen–science methodology for agriculture that has been developed by Bioversity International to make it possible for large numbers of farmers to ‘massively test’ different technologies. Tricot is part of a programme known as Seeds for Needs that is implemented by Bioversity International in countries around the world. Tricot contributes to the improvement of seed systems in many ways: enriching variety recommendations, improving on-farm testing, engaging and empowering farmers, contributing to the diversification of seed systems, supporting scaling, enabling women to do their own variety selection, offering opportunities for local seed businesses and getting researchers to learn farmers’ variety preferences. Regarding tricot’s contribution to resilient seed systems, the approach contributes to strengthening local seed systems because more choices are available to adapt to climate change and because farmers are empowered to make their own choices by learning what varieties work in their specific climate zones. In terms of farmers’ engagement, the integration of gender considerations in the approach could be made more explicit, and ways to increase gender responsiveness identified. Another aspect that could be improved is the feedback given to farmers after experimentation, which, in some cases, might be omitted or limited in the handing of a sheet of summarized results to farmers.