Collective action for the conservation of on-farm genetic diversity in a center of crop diversity: an assessment of the role of traditional farmers' networks
Abstract"This project explored the possible role of collective action among small-scale farmers in managing and maintaining genetic resources in a center of crop diversity. It focused on the local institutions that ensure the supply of seed of diverse maize landraces to small-scale farmers in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca, Mexico. The key hypothesis was that the medium-to-long-term supply of a diverse set of varieties to any individual small-scale maize farmer depends on an agreement among a group of farmers to manage and supply the seed of these landraces to each other, if the need arises, and that this constitutes a form of collective action. Six communities were studied, three of them in-depth. Methodologies used included in-depth semi-structured interviews with key informants, focus group discussions, and a tracer study—following the flows of seed among different farmers. The results show that, while there is a well-developed local seed supply system based on sets of social relationships and involving multiple types of transactions, there is no evidence of collective action. Most farmers rely on and prefer to select and save seed from their own harvests. There are seed flows, however, and most seed transactions take place among people with social links, but not within a well-defined group. There are no specialized suppliers of seed, either individuals or groups. Most transactions are bilateral and while the most common transaction is the sale and purchase of seed, this is not done for profit but out of a sense of moral obligation. The system is based on the creation of trust, which is needed because seed is not transparent—that is, it is not possible to fully predict the plant phenotype that may result from a given seed simply by looking at the seed. Farmers demand different types of maize and they believe that there is a strong genotype-by-environment interaction, hence “foreign” maize types may not be appropriate for them. At the same time, farmers also find occasional experimentation beneficial and believe that they can slowly modify the characteristics of “foreign” landraces. In this system, there are strong incentives to be conservative, but also to try new landraces and experiment. The local seed system of these farmers is resilient but able to innovate as well. Interventions to support the conservation of landraces on farm, based on specialized networks for seed that rely on collective action, may not work.." Author's Abstract
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series CAPRi working papers with number 38.
Date of creation: 2005
Date of revision:
Central America; Europe and North America; Small farmers; Collective action; Informal seed systems; Crop diversification; Seed supply; Trust;
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-AGR-2006-03-25 (Agricultural Economics)
- NEP-ALL-2006-03-25 (All new papers)
- NEP-NET-2006-03-25 (Network Economics)
- NEP-SOC-2006-03-25 (Social Norms & Social Capital)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Smale, Melinda & Aguirre, Alfonso & Bellon, Mauricio R. & Mendoza, Jorge & Rosas, Irma Manuel, 1999. "Farmer Management of Maize Diversity in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca, Mexico: CIMMYT/INIFAP 1998 Baseline Socioeconomic Survey," Economics Working Papers 7689, CIMMYT: International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.
- Bellon, Mauricio R. & Risopoulos, Jean, 2001. "Small-Scale Farmers Expand the Benefits of Improved Maize Germplasm: A Case Study from Chiapas, Mexico," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 799-811, May.
- Thiele, Graham, 1999. "Informal potato seed systems in the Andes: Why are they important and what should we do with them?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 83-99, January.
- Badstue, Lone B. & Bellon, Mauricio R. & Juarez, Xochitl & Manuel, Irma & Solano, Ana M., 2003. "Social Relations And Seed Transactions Among Smallscale Maize Farmers In The Central Valleys Of Oaxaca, Mexico; Preliminary Findings," Economics Working Papers 46551, CIMMYT: International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.
- Knox, Anna & Meinzen-Dick, Ruth Suseela & Hazell, P. B. R., 1998. "Property rights, collective action and technologies for natural resource management: a conceptual framework," CAPRi working papers 1, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
- Morris, Michael L. & Lopez-Pereira, Miguel A., 1999. "Impacts of Maize Breeding Research in Latin America, 1966-1997," Miscellaneous Reports 48286, CIMMYT: International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.
- Bellon, Mauricio R., 2004. "Conceptualizing Interventions to Support On-Farm Genetic Resource Conservation," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 159-172, January.
- Badstue, Lone B. & Bellon, Mauricio R. & Berthaud, Julien & Ramirez, Alejandro & Flores, Dagoberto & Juarez, Xochitl, 2007. "The Dynamics of Farmers' Maize Seed Supply Practices in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca, Mexico," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(9), pages 1579-1593, September.
- Kumasi, Tyhra Carolyn & Asenso-Okyere, Kwadwo, 2011. "Responding to land degradation in the highlands of Tigray, Northern Ethiopia:," IFPRI discussion papers 1142, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.