Regional and local maize seed exchange and replacement in the western highlands of Guatemala

J. van Etten, S. de Bruin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Regional distributions of crop diversity are important to take into account for the spatial design of in situ, farmer-participatory interventions in crop genetic management. Regional seed flows are an important factor in shaping geographical distributions of crop diversity. This study contributes to the insight in these seed flows, focusing on maize (Zea mays L.) in Chimaltenango, an area in the western highlands of Guatemala. A social survey of 257 households on different aspects of seed management produced information on cultivar naming, seed sources, reasons and causes of the discontinuation of seed lots, and important explanatory variables associated with different seed sources. A small portion of the reported seed lots originated from regional seed sources. The main motivation of regional seed exchange and the discontinuation of seed lots was to achieve change in plant characteristics of the crop, especially to obtain lower plants and shorter growing cycles. It is argued that farmer selection fails to achieve such change, and in fact leads to an equilibrium with high plants and long growing cycles. Seed exchange functions as an escape to this trend. Other factors of influence on seed exchange are altitude and ethnicity. The study also highlights the issue of geographical directionality in seed exchange patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-70
JournalPlant genetic resources: characterization and utilization
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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