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Social determinants and ecological impacts of seed transmission systems in African root and tuber crops, and their implications for resilience of smallholder farming systems (KINSEED)
Start date: Apr 1, 2014, End date: Mar 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Understanding the processes by which smallholder farmers in developing countries increase or renew crop diversity, and how they maintain this diversity by ensuring the transmission of their technical and ecological knowledge through the generations, is essential for tackling food insecurity whilst at the same time conserving agricultural biodiversity. The KINSEED project focuses on seed transmission systems as a determining factor of the adaptive capacity of smallholder farming societies in a context of global changes, in particular climate change. Seed transmission systems are defined as the set of social norms and rules that govern the generational transmission of ‘seeds’ (here understood in the sense of propagules i.e., any material―true seeds, tubers, rhizomes, or stem cuttings―that are used for propagating crop varieties). The project will investigate the link between kinship systems and seed transmission systems and their role in structuring crop diversity and accessibility at local and regional levels. Because of its social dimension and intricate relation with traditional economic systems, seed transmission is an essential component of social-ecological systems yet it has seldom been studied, particularly in the context of resilience. The aims of this project are threefold: 1) To examine the relationship between seed exchanges and marriage exchanges and analyse the effects of seed transmission on the dynamics of crop diversity at local and regional levels; 2) To investigate the social and biological implications of global changes for smallholder farming societies and examine whether seed transmission systems may provide an opportunity for capacity-building or act as a social barrier to adaptation actions aiming at enhancing smallholder farming systems’ resilience to climate change; 3) To identify and propose improved pathways for capacity building through a better integration of formal (i.e., regulated by the public sector) and informal (local) seed systems.

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