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Assessing the Vulnerability of Traditional Maize Seed Systems in Mexico to Climate Change

August 25th, 2011 | Source: Mauricio R. Bellon, David Hodson and Jon Hellin

Climate change is expected to threaten and have major impacts on Mexican small-scale farmers, who rely on rain-fed maize.
The authors studied the capacity of traditional maize seed of twenty communities to provide these farmers with genetic materials to cope with climate change and its predicted effects on agro-ecology. The study was undertaken in five states of Eastern Mexico from 10 – 2,980 m above sea level.

The result showed that 90% of all of the seed are obtained within 10 km of a community and 87% within an altitudinal range of ± 50 m but with differences across four agro-climate environments: wet lowland, dry lowland, wet upper mid latitude, and highlands.

For all communities except those in the highlands, predicted future maize environments are already represented within the 10-km radial zones, indicating that farmers will have easy access to adapted planting material in the future.

Farmers in the highlands are the most vulnerable and will probably be forced to get seeds from outside their geographical range, which will entail information costs and the development new seed and associated social networks. Results of the study were the same for areas elsewhere in Mexico and in the World.

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