Conservation of crop genetic resources is now considered an important component of sustainable agricultural development. If conservation of genetic resources for agriculture is to be successful, a more complete understanding of the dynamics affecting traditional (landrace) crop populations is needed. We conducted a study of maize-based agriculture in the Central Highlands of Mexico in communities at 2400, 1700, 1400, and 1200 masl to assess the status of traditional varieties in an area characterized by thorough integration into the national economy. Our research contradicts the view that modern varieties persist because of marginal conditions, deficient infrastructure, weaker markets, or traditional attitudes. One or two landraces dominated highland maize populations and farmers appeared to be more conservative in terms of their emphasis on traditional maize varieties than at lower elevations. The dominance of traditional varieties in the highlands is well known but poorly explained, and the coexistence of traditional and modern varieties in the mid-elevations was unexpected. Our highland study area has good roads, is near Mexico City, and is less than 50 km away from four major crop research institutes that have done maize breeding since 1950’s. We suggest that in situ conservation of maize genetic resources in the highlands is sustained because the landraces there have good agronomic performance and are highly valued by farmers for their end-use qualities. At the mid-elevations, competition between local and modern maize was sharpest, and farmers have found that both landraces and improved varieties suit their needs, hence enhancing genetic diversity. Interventions and incentives would appropriately be carried out here to assure in situ conservation of locally adapted landraces of maize.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 57 • No. 1