Genetic and agronomic criteria are insufficient to explain the distinction made by farmers between a modern coconut hybrid and a natural coconut hybrid in southern India. Here we show that these modern and traditional coconut hybrids come from the same parental cultivars, and we analyze the attitude of farmers who name, characterize and treat the hybrids differently despite their biological similarity. From an anthropological perspective, this varietal assessment is not a free or isolated process. Indeed, farmer's evaluation of the new material is based on their traditional varieties, already known and used as a frame of reference. This comparison has less to do with the biological characteristics of the plant than with its qualities as a cultural entity within a human community. The large distribution scale of the modern coconut hybrids, their abundance, and the fact that their reproduction is technically assisted by scientists contrast with the rare, spontaneous appearances of the natural coconut hybrids in farmers' fields. By thus focusing our attention on human intervention, it is not only the planting materials that are being compared but also two crop creation processes and two social groups (farmers and scientists).
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