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Abstract

This paper explores social arrangements associated with seed transactions among small-scale maize farmers in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca, Mexico, a centre of crop genetic diversity. A formal seed distribution system has yet to develop in the region and when seed loss occurs, farmers are faced with costs and difficulties identifying, locating, and obtaining seed of desired varieties. For these reasons, it was hypothesized that there were strong incentives for collective action among farmers to facilitate seed supply. The study found, however, no evidence of collective action with regards to seed supply in the three study communities-San Pablo Huitzo, San Lorenzo Albarradas, Santa Ana Zegache. Instead, farmers acquired seed using a variety of networks of social relations and different types of seed transactions. The results suggest that seed flow among farmers in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca is a complex process of negotiation and reciprocity, influenced by a variety of agroecological, socioeconomic, and cultural factors.

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