Economic Botany

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 56–67

Harvest Security and Intraspecific Diversity in Traditional Tropical Agriculture

  • David L. Clawson

DOI: 10.1007/BF02861175

Cite this article as:
Clawson, D.L. Econ Bot (1985) 39: 56. doi:10.1007/BF02861175


The horticultural strategies of traditional tropical agriculturists center on the preservation of harvest security. In addition to cultivating simultaneously numerous species of crops, traditional tropical farmers also plant multiple varieties of each crop. These cultivars are frequently distinguished on the basis of color, ranging from white to yellow to red to purple. In addition to varying in appearance and taste and in resistance to environmental stresses, the color-based varieties often differ in length of growing season. By practicing multicolored, intraspecific polyculture, the traditional tropical farmer either provides himself several opportunities to secure a complete single harvest and/or staggers his harvest throughout the year and thus, in either case, preserves his lifestyle. Acceptance of Green Revolution technologies by traditional tropical farmers would accelerate if they were offered multiple, high-yielding varieties of staple food crops of varying color and maturation periods.

Copyright information

© by the New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY 10458 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • David L. Clawson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology and GeographyUniversity of New OrleansNew Orleans