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The Role of Local Institutions in the Conservation of Plant Genetic Diversity

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Dennis, Evan; Ilyasov, Jarilkasin; Van Dusen, Eric; Treshkin, Sergey; Lee, Marina; Eyzaguirre, Pablo
Conference: CAPRi-IPGRI International Workshop on Property Rights, Collective Action and Local Conservation of Genetic Resources
Location: Rome, Italy
Conf. Date: September 29, 2003
Date: 2003
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/2171
Sector: Agriculture
Information & Knowledge
Subject(s): conservation
genetic resources
Abstract: "Farmers's decisions that promote the production and use of local varieties in agricultural systems are important for the in situ conservation of globally important plant genetic resources (Brush, 1999, pp. 7-8; Eyzaguirre, 2001, pp. 1-2). Maintaining traditional varieties that remain central to farmers' livelihood strategies demand policies that build upon local values, cultures, and traditional resource rights. Support for the conservation of plant biodiversity needs to begin by identifying the existing community-level institutions that govern tenure and access to land and associated biological resources and then considering how they are affected by changes in policy frameworks. Community institutions provide sets of rules, norms, and guidelines - sometimes contradictory - that establish the framework in which farmers' make decisions about which varieties to cultivate. Institutions may include local traditions, market forces, or cultural values; and unless carefully coordinated, the various institutions often provide contradictory sets of incentives. Understanding the mechanisms linking competing local-level and formal national institutions to individual decision-making, requires a strategy to systematically identify the total number and various types of pathways by which local institutions influence individuals' choices. "This paper presents a theoretical framework grounded in an empirical study of community-level institutions important to the maintenance of plant genetic resource diversity in the Samarkand region of Uzbekistan. From May to August 2003 our team administered 400 household surveys and 80 group surveys of socioeconomic and institutional factors associated with farmers choices on crop diversity. In addition the team collected ethnobotanical and agromorphological data about local fruit varieties in 20 villages in the region. Based on preliminary analysis of that data, we identify a set of guidelines for comparing local institutional characteristics between households, and reference a preliminary analysis of the collected data. These guidelines provide a means to better understand the institutions that surround and condition the social and biological processes whereby farmers maintain significant amounts of agricultural biodiversity. Among the more fundamental institutions are those governing land tenure and access to plant genetic resources. In this paper, the identification of the local land tenure and resource management institutions provides a baseline for developing policies that promote the continued use of agricultural biodiversity as a means to advance more secure livelihoods for farmers in Central Asia."

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