In situ crop diversity: why evaluate it in diversity cold spots?

Authors: Kristin Mercer*, Ohio State University, Henry Peller, Ohio State University, Lev Jardon-Barbolla, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Nydia Leon, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Joel Wainwright, Ohio State University
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Latin America
Keywords: crop diversity, repatriation, in situ conservation, maize, Belize
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Maryland C, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Processes of crop domestication, diversification, and spread create hot spots and cold spots of crop diversity. Areas where subsistence farmers who save their seed dominate can be especially disadvantaged since higher diversity within and between crop seed lots can serve cultural purposes, augment ecosystem function, and preserve adaptive potential in the face of novel conditions. The trajectories of crop diversity over time and space can vary for many reasons, both natural and human mediated. For instance, demographic processes influencing human populations can affect the way that farmers use and conserve crop diversity. I argue that in areas where crop diversity has been lost, or never was very high, evaluation of crop diversity and programs to increase that diversity can benefit local farmers. However, it is important to consider (i) the social/programmatic structure under which evaluation of, and changes in, diversity occur (including relationships with local communities); (ii) methods used to evaluate diversity as well as associated knowledge and interaction; and (iii) sources of diversity that could be (re-)introduced. I will present a case study of maize in Belize to illustrate these concepts. Ultimately, such efforts may augment farmer productivity and serve as an adaptation for climate change while also empowering farmers with greater knowledge about their crop.

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