Knowledge for Development

Pioneering study shows how traditional seed systems may cope with climate change


Date: 27/09/2011


A new study conducted by Mauricio Bellon, Programme Director at Bioversity International, and colleagues, throws light on the ways that smallholder famers will be able to obtain seeds that will cope with climate change. The team surveyed Mexican maize farmers in four different agro-ecological zones to find out where the farmers got their seed and then modelled how variation in regional climate might affect their environment. For all communities except those in the highlands, predicted future maize environments are already represented within the 10-km radial zones, indicating that in the future farmers will have easy access to adapted planting material. Farmers in the highlands are the most vulnerable and probably will need to acquire seed from outside their traditional geographical ranges.

This change in seed sources probably will entail important information costs and the development of new seed and associated social networks, including improved linkages between traditional and formal seed systems and more effective and efficient seed-supply chains. The approach pioneered in this research, of integrating information about seed systems with fine-scale examination of predicted climate shifts, is important because it has the potential to be applied in other regions and countries.

(Bioversity International, 19/8/2011; CCAFS, 1/9/2011)