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Wageningen Universiteit (2005)

Getting genes : rethinking seed system analysis and reform for sorghum in Ethiopia

MacGuire, S.

Titre : Getting genes : rethinking seed system analysis and reform for sorghum in Ethiopia

Auteur : MacGuire, S.

Université de soutenance : Wageningen Universiteit

Grade : PhD thesis 2005

Crop improvement and seed supply are central activities in agricultural development. Many interventions have sought to involve farmers more closely in crop development and seed supply, to improve the effectiveness of plant science, enhance biodiversity conservation, or empower farmers, with Participatory Plant Breeding’ (PPB) being the most recent strategy for reform. However, there is little critical analysis of the existing technical and institutional practices of formal systems, and almost no knowledge at all of farmers’ own strategies for accessing and using crop genetic resources. For these reasons, interventions risk being mis-directed. Moreover, without a broad analysis of institutions and policies, interventions may result lead to only temporary change, at best. This research analyses both farmer and formal seed systems for sorghum inEthiopia, identifying the specific challenges they face, set in historical, social, and institutional context. This is rarely done in discussions of reform, and suggests different that different types of interventions are needed than usually promoted by PPB, or other participatory reforms. Using practice and path-dependency as analytical starting points, this thesis explores the history, policies, key decisions, and institutional cultures in formal breeding and seed supply. Farmers own genetic resource management was directly observed in two communities, using both qualitative and quantitative approaches to explore social relations in seed exchange, seed storage and selection, and pathways of innovation. This broad scaled-approach highlighted how biological and social process interact in genetic resource management, particularly around the institutional forces shaping formal seed system practices, and the importance of social relationships in securing access to seed and germplasm in farmer seed systems. Analysing both seed systems together in this inter-disciplinary fashion offers fresh insights into seed system reform, and highlights key challenges, particularly in relation to securing access to seed and information, appropriate scale of work, and institutional barriers to change.

Mots clés : plant breeding / sorghum / sorghum bicolor / seeds / seed quality / farmers / farming systems research / indigenous knowledge / plant genetic resources / ethiopia


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Page publiée le 24 mars 2007, mise à jour le 2 janvier 2018