Smallholder seed practices : maize seed management in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca, Mexico

L.B. Badstue

    Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


    This research aims to contribute to an in­creased understanding of what is commonly referred to as 'local seed systems', 'farmer seed systems' or 'informal seed systems', both in relation to seed supply for agricultural production and in relation to the conservation of important crop genetic diversity. Within a general understanding of seed as an essential input for agricultural production, as well as a fundamental source of germplasm for crop improvement, this study offers a detailed analysis of smallholder maize seed practices among traditional farmers in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca, Mexico, a centre of maize genetic diversity.

    Using an actor-oriented approach as the point of departure, a series of aspects related to local maize seed management and transactions are examined and discussed, including

    • Farmers' seed practices as a form of local knowledge;
    • The role of collective action in relation to crop genetic diversity conserva­tion and seed supply at the local level;
    • The social organization of seed supply; and
    • Farmers' transaction costs in relation to seed acquisition.

    The study shows that smallholder maize seed practices in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca are complex and dynamic, spanning both conservation and innovation aspects. Local concepts relating to maize and maize seed practices are often flexible and negotiable, and small-scale experimentation in search of knowledge and practical solutions is an integral part of farming. The applications and dynamics that make up local maize seed practices in the study area appear to be negotiated on the basis of a set of shared views and conditions, which in themselves are based on the agro-ecological, cultural, and social envi­ronments in which these farmers operate.

    While each section of the book analyses a different problematic, shedding light on a par­ticular aspect of local seed dynamics in the study area, together they complement each other and provide a basis for a deeper understanding of farmers' seed practices in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca. This in turn contributes to an im­proved understanding of local seed practices in a broader perspective and emphasizes the challenge for agricultural research of achieving synergies with local knowledge as the major driving force in local development processes.

    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Wageningen University
    • Long, N.E., Promotor
    • Bellon, M.R., Co-promotor, External person
    Award date24 Oct 2006
    Place of Publication[S.l.]
    Print ISBNs9789085045021
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


    • rural sociology
    • rural development
    • maize
    • seeds
    • supply
    • farm management
    • small farms
    • knowledge
    • local population
    • costs
    • mexico
    • action research


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