Sustaining Productivity: Environmental Change, Seed and Social Exchanges, Biodiversity

Saturday, 15 February 2014
Grand Ballroom A (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Melinda Smale , Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Despite the characterization of the Green Revolution as a market-driven transformation, farmer-to-farmer transfers underpinned the rapid diffusion of modern wheat varieties in the Asian subcontinent. Nearly a half-century later, in that same region, some evidence suggests that the variety replacement needed to maintain yield potential in major crops such as wheat is still dominated by exchanges based on social relationships. Farmer-to-farmer seed transfer, via gifts, exchange, or sale, is even more pronounced among marginalized, smaller-scale farmers and minor crops, where formal trade of certified seed is sparse. This presentation will draw on recent empirical research conducted across crops and developing country contexts to explore the linkages between the structure of the local seed trade and the intra-specific biodiversity of the crops on which poor people depend for their livelihoods.