Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Globalized Culture and Global Food Security: The Effects of Global Culture and Trade on In Situ Conservation of Central American Bean Landraces

EPA Grant Number: FP916444
Title: Globalized Culture and Global Food Security: The Effects of Global Culture and Trade on In Situ Conservation of Central American Bean Landraces
Investigators: Keleman, Alder
Institution: Yale University
EPA Project Officer: Zambrana, Jose
Project Period: January 1, 2004 through December 31, 2006
Project Amount: $74,172
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Biology/Life Sciences , Fellowship - Behavioral/Social Sciences



Rain-fed farms in southern Sonora, Mexico have long relied on the use of genetically diverse, drought-adapted crops. In recent decades, however, prolonged drought, competition with large-scale commercial agriculture, and the pressures of increasingly export-oriented agricultural markets encouraged by the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have severely impacted farmers’ practices and production capacity. The objectives of this research are to: (1) assess the persistence and/or disappearance of genetically diverse, native crops on small-scale farms in the region; and (2) identify relationships between patterns of crop persistence/disappearance and broader economic, environmental, and demographic factors.


Research objectives will be pursued using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. Baseline data maintained by the Tucson-based seed bank, Native Seeds/SEARCH, will be coupled with ethnographic accounts of local farming history to establish the previous extent of crop diversity in southern Sonora. Subsequently, crop persistence and disappearance on a regional level will be explored using quantitatively analyzed surveys and semi-structured interviews. To explore patterns in the dynamics of crop diversity change, regional-level data will be supplemented by an indepth exploration of farming practices, demographic change, and crop persistence on a community scale. Data will be gathered using a combination of indepth surveys, semi-structured interviews, and participant observation. Salient questions to be addressed include:

● How do changes in rainfall patterns affect crop maintenance or loss?

● Do economic factors, such as government-sponsored aid packages or variable sale prices of crops, influence an individual’s ability to perpetuate a diverse array of crops?

The goals of this project are to develop an indepth understanding of the forces that maintain and threaten crop genetic diversity on small-scale farms and to generate recommendations to inform future national and international agricultural policy initiatives.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, Mexico, native crops, trade, agriculture, crop diversity, North American Free-Trade Agreement, NAFTA, seed bank, Native Seeds/SEARCH, farming practices, production capacity, conservation, food security, government aid,, RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, Resources Management, decision-making, Ecology and Ecosystems, Social Science, Economics & Decision Making, biodiversity, environmental decision making, decision making, anthropogenic effects, conservation, global scenarios, community based environmental planning, environmental policy, agriculture, behavior change, farm policy, global free trade