Peasant agriculture and the conservation of crop and wild plant resources

TitlePeasant agriculture and the conservation of crop and wild plant resources
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1987
AuthorsAltieri, MA, Anderson, MK, Merrick, LC
JournalConservation Biology
Date PublishedMay 1987
Keywordsagroecosystems; biodiversity

Peasant agroecosystems are seen as a continuum of integrated farming units and natural ecosystems where plant gathering and crop production are actively practiced Many of these traditional agroecosystems still found throughout developing countries constitute major in situ repositories of both crop and wild plant germplasm. These plant resources are directly dependent upon management by human groups; thus, they have evolved in part under the influence of farming practices shaped by particular cultures.

Because genetic conservation programs are more effective when preserving the ecosystems in which the resources occur, maintenance of traditional farming systems and adjacent natural ecosystems is proposed as a sensible strategy for in situ preservation of crop and wild plant genetic resources. It is here argued that preservation efforts should be linked to rural development projects that take into account the ethnobotanical knowledge of rural people and that emphasize both food self-sufficiency as well as local resource conservation. Preservation of these traditional agroecosystems cannot be achieved when isolated from maintenance of the culture of the local people. Therefore, projects should also emphasize maintenance of cultural diversity.



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