Determinants of cereal diversity in communities and on household farms of the Northern Ethiopian Highlands

On farm conservation of crop diversity poses obvious policy challenges in terms of the design of appropriate incentive mechanisms and possible trade-offs between conservation and productivity. This paper compares factors explaining the inter-specific diversity (diversity among species) and infra-specific diversity (diversity among varieties within a species) of cereal crops grown in communities and on individual farms in the northern Ethiopian highlands….If agrobiodiversity conservation is to be seriously considered as a policy option in these communities, applied economics researchers will need to 1) establish the relationship of cereal diversity conservation to private and social welfare, and 2) articulate the relationship between the names of varieties managed by farmers and infra-specific, genetic diversity measured through agro-morphological or molecular analysis. Methodological advance may be required to relate policies to diversity outcomes measured at various geographical scales or levels of aggregation in the same farming system. Specific issues for further social science research include the relationship of seed management practices, seed markets, tenure and soil conservation practices to diversity conservation, and the possible application of bio-economic models to the analysis of species and genetic diversity interactions with farming systems. For policy purposes, it will be important to better understand the particular institutional and social elements that cause communities to behave differently in terms of conservation than the individual household farms of which they are composed, and for some communities to conserve more than others. ” — Authors’ Abstract

Benin, Samuel
Gebremedhin, Berhanu
Smale, Melinda
Pender, John L.
Ehui, Simeon K.
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International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
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