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

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2004
  • 2005
  • Final