Chili (Capsicum annuum L.) is an economically important spice widely cultivated in Benin. In order to document its diversity and identify the best performing varieties which could meet producers’ and consumers’ needs, surveys were conducted in thirty-one villages randomly selected in southern Benin. Ten production constraints of agronomic nature were identified among which the most important were attacks of insects on fruits, viral infection, early fall of the plant’s organs (leaves, flowers, fruits) and anthracnose. The number of varieties identified varies from 3 to 8 (5 on average) per village and from 1 to 7 (2 on average) per household. The distribution and extent analysis revealed that out of 5 varieties on average cultivated per village, only two are cultivated by many households and on large areas. The average rate of varietal diversity loss is 23.53% per village. Farmers’ varietal preference criteria (17 in total) identified and prioritized were essentially agronomical characters (86.89% of the responses) and the most important we re related to the post-harvest storage aptitude of the fruits, the productivity and the seed germination capacity. A participatory evaluation of the varieties has led to identification of the best per forming ones per trait of economic importance. Throughout surveyed sites, 197 accessions of farmer-named landraces were collected and their agromorphological characterisation is recommended for clarification of synonymies and breeding purposes.