Farmers' adoption of maize (Zea mays L.). Hybrids and persistence of landraces in Southwest China: implications for policy and breeding

Jingsong Li, E. Lammerts Van Bueren, Janice Jiggins, C. Leeuwis

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28 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines changes in the distribution of maize hybrids and landraces in the mountainous areas of southwest China over 1998–2008, farmers’ reasons for cultivar adoption and the implications for national policies in relation to seed production and breeding, based on baseline data and a survey conducted in Guangxi, Yunnan and Guizhou. The study traced the dynamic changes in the adoption of hybrids and landraces in farmers’ fields, explored how individual farmer’s choices can influence local landrace distribution, and investigated the space for conducive policy and innovative action for on-farm conservation of maize genetic resources. The research showed that although there is strong farmers’ interest in accessing modern maize hybrids, farmers also express strong reasons for maintaining at least some of the landraces that satisfy local agronomic context and social preferences. Farmers recognized that hybrids have a number of advantages but they also indicated some disadvantages of the current available hybrids e.g. with respect to seed quality, local adaptability, taste and cost of seeds, but also lack of information on the performances of the new hybrids. Based on farmers’ reasoning and experiences, the requirements have been identified for improving yield combined with local preferences (agronomic, cultural and socio-economic). The paper concludes by identifying options for how China might seek to develop resilient seed systems for smallholder farmers in poor areas, under changing climatical conditions and volatile markets. Participatory Plant Breeding is among the options considered for bringing farmers’ needs into conservation and breeding strategies for improving local adaptation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1147-1160
JournalGenetic Resources and Crop Evolution
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • crop genetic diversity
  • agricultural biodiversity


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