After more than a decade of successful collaboration in participatory plant breeding (PPB) between farmers and maize breeders in southwest China, and release of new improved varieties and hybrids, it was realised that their conservation objectives could not also be secured unless farmers had incentives to maintain their traditional cultivars in production. This article explores their experience of expressing the public value of farmers' cultivars through organizing novel relationships among public and private actors, by means of PPB programmes and market-based arrangements. The researchers reached beyond common agri-food development practices and theories, to apply concepts used in public administrations studies, in order to consider public and private interest and value in relation to the direct, indirect and option value of the plant genetic resources (PGRs) represented by farmers' cultivars. In this paper, seven organizational options from selected countries are examined in relation to their roles in (i) creating indirect and options values; (ii) sustaining the legitimacy of and support for related practices; and (iii) developing operational capacity of the associated organizations and actors. The three main findings are (a) innovations in breeding and conservation developed through PPB are key factors in the management by smallholders of the indirect and option value of agro-biodiversity; (b) market-based arrangements and the creation of new sets of property rights in the products developed from farmer-bred cultivars legitimize and support PPB and PGRs conservation; and (c), the organization of the indirect and option value of farmer-bred cultivars calls for the integration of the joint efforts of producers, consumers, market actors and public sector agencies in networked governance, that can take a variety of forms. Lessons are drawn from and for China, where legal and regulatory practices in the seed sector are still under development and smallholders still maintain crop and varietal diversity by their agricultural practices.
- geographical indications
- food system