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Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative Report 21:65-65 (article 24) 1998

Genotypes Selected by Farmers: An Interesting Option for Pumpkin Breeding

Humberto Rios Labrada, Antonio Fernandez Almirall and Orlando Batista de la Carrera

Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Agricolas (INCA). GP no1 San Jose de las Lajas, La Habana, Cuba cp 32700

Introduction. Specific genetic adaptation of pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) is important in order to maximize agrobiodiversity and yields, and to satisfy the cultural and socio-economic demands of communities with low-input agriculture systems.

Hardon (1995) reported that the main results of plant breeding programs have been to produce varieties adapted to favorable agricultural environments. However, in marginal areas there are economic, technical and institutional constraints: economic, because farm households lack resources and cannot afford the risk involved in compensating for the high cost of external input: technical because plant breeding has not been very successful in adapting crops to more extreme and variable environments; and institutional because breeding is expensive and usually only justified for large geographic areas sharing a common environment.

In Cuba, considering its recent economic crisis and efforts to produce pumpkin genetic resources adapted to low income conditions (Rios et al., 1997),a breeding approach using farmers in the selection process may be advantageous as a complementary or supplemental method for pumpkin breeding. This would be important if Cuban farmers were able to efficiently select pumpkins for their own growing conditions.

Materials, Methods, and Results. During 1989-1993, 16 lines from Cuban landraces were sown under site farming conditions at the "Juan Diaz" community of Batabano municipality. Here a selection committee was created and 4 farmers chose 3 half sib families according to their own criteria (cooking quality, yield, perform and crookneck fruit shape and medium fruit size). The fruit characteristics preferred by the farmers often differed from those of the commercial variety (RG) disseminated in the locality by the former seed sector.

Results and Discussion. Almost immediately, the pumpkin populations resulting from the farmers' selection were adopted by different farms across the community, and the formal seed sector became involved in the seed multiplication process of these populations.

What were the breeders' functions in this effort?

  • To select an experimental station (first screening).
  • To supply germplasm potentially manageable by farmers.
  • To contribute to the maintenance of varietal vigor.

In summary, the participation of Cuban farmers in pumpkin selection according to their own socio-economic necessities may prove to be an interesting and valuable option for diversifying pumpkin varietal material. It would also contribute to the community welfare, and could serve as a resource for in situ pumpkin conservation.

Literature Cited

  1. Hardon, J. 1995. Participatory plant breeding. Issues in genetic Resources No. 3:1-15.
  2. Rios Labrada, H., A.F. Almirall and O.B. de la Carrera. 1997. Cuban pumpkin variability under low input conditions. Cucurbit Genetics Coop. Rept. 20:48-49.
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Page citation: Wehner, T.C., Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative;
Created by T.C. Wehner and T. Ng, 1 June 2005; design by C.T. Glenn;
send questions to T.C. Wehner; last revised on 23 April, 2008