Planting Hybrids, Keeping Landraces: Agricultural Modernization and Tradition Among Small-Scale Maize Farmers in Chiapas, Mexico

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Published in  World Development  39(8): 1434-1443, 2011

Planting Hybrids, Keeping Landraces: Agricultural Modernization and Tradition Among Small-Scale Maize Farmers in Chiapas, Mexico

Mauricio R. Bellon and Jon Hellin

This paper examines how agricultural modernization and tradition interact among small-scale commercially-oriented maize farmers by studying shifts in area and number of farmers planting hybrids and landraces. Results show substantial yield increases but reductions in production and area planted, associated with widespread hybrid adoption and landrace abandonment. Agricultural government programs have played an important role fostering commercialization and hybrid adoption. Cultural preferences, and possibly an anti-poverty program coupled with women’s empowerment, have fostered landrace retention. Hybrids and landraces have overlapping functions in farmers’ livelihoods influenced by interdependent production and consumption decisions, cultural preferences, and imperfect markets even under agricultural modernization.

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