Commercialization of valuable consumption traits (like aroma, taste and easy expansion in cooking) and production traits (like high yield and pest resistance) can make traditional crop varieties more attractive for local farmers, enhancing their on-farm conservation. Market-driven methods of conservation based on incentives and opportunity costs require a priori knowledge about farmers’ preferences for varieties and traits. This case study has attempted to value different useful traits of rice landraces grown in Nepal. A sample of randomly selected 200 Nepalese rice growers, 100 each from the hills and the plain, were surveyed on production of rice landraces and the market price fetched by each of them.

Two types of valuation methods were used: hedonic pricing and contingent valuation. The results of the hedonic pricing method (HPM) showed that consumers value aromatic and tasty traits of rice landraces close to NPR (Nepalese rupee) 11 billion ($148.6m) and NPR 2 billion ($27m), respectively. The contingent valuation method (CVM) was employed for estimating farmers’ derived demand for hypothetical seeds with different useful traits combined as desired by the farmers. The results showed that farmers were willing to pay nearly NPR 1 billion (close to $13.5m) for high-yielding landraces with aromatic traits and over NPR 1 billion for disease-resistant landraces highly suitable for cooking. These values of unique traits of rice landraces are likely to exceed the costs of conservation. The estimates are indicative of the values of the rice traits embodied in the rice landraces that justify the need for their conservation. Therefore, it has been concluded that every dollar spent in conservation of such landraces makes the society better-off.