Developing high yielding cultivars with acceptable and farmers preference traits are the ultimate goal of crop improvement program. However, farmers in marginal areas continue to cultivate low yielding, susceptible to pests and disease sorghum land-races. Lack of awareness and absence of farmers’ perception on the development of superior varieties caused difficult challenges on the acceptability and adoption of improved sorghum varieties. Several and different improved sorghum varieties were released from international and national research institutions with little or no involvement of farmers participation for demand driven technology development. Therefore, the experiment was conducted at the Hirna and Chiro with the objective to evaluate the adaptability and identify farmers’ preferred traits to address the issues of farmers’ selection criteria and increase the adoption rates of farmers chosen improved sorghum varieties through farmer to farmer seed exchange mechanisms. A total of six sorghum varieties were evaluated using randomized complete block design during 2019 main cropping season. Farmers’ evaluation was done through direct-matrix and pair-wise ranking methods at flowering and maturity developmental stages. Farmers prioritized grain yield, biomass, seed color, disease resistance and seed size traits during evaluation and identification of their preferred varieties. The results of combined analysis of variance showed the presence of highly significant genetic variation among varieties for all the studied characteristics at 1% probability level. Dibaba (11.375tha-1) and Jiru (10.175tha-1) varieties recorded the highest grain yield and identified as the superior improved sorghum varieties by both field experiment and farmers visual observation. Grain yield had positive and highly significantly correlation with days to50% flowering (0.91**), days to maturity (0.73**) and thousand seed weight (0.91**). Likewise, based on the overall farmer’s preference, Dibaba and Jiru were ranked first and second and followed by Adelle, Chiro and ETS2752 respectively. Hence, the varieties Dibaba and Jiru were selected due to their superior performance as compared to the rest varieties by farmers’ evaluation and field experiment results. Moreover, this experiment ensured participatory varietal selection is very critical breeding procedure to get farmers’ perceptions, preferences, merits and shortcomings of sorghum varieties for further improvement. Therefore, the result of the experiment manifested as Dibaba and Jiru improved sorghum varieties were recommended for multiplication and distribution to farmers through both formal and informal seed systems. Generally, the integration of plant breeders and farmer’s perception used to increase the adoption rate and design a good breeding program for future improvement.
Keywords: Farmer’s preference; Selection criteria; Farmers’ perception; Sorghum; Participatory variety selection