Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 109–129 | Cite as

The conservation of agrobiodiversity on-farm: questioning the emerging paradigm

  • David Wood
  • Jillian M. Lenne´


The genetic diversity of traditional varieties of crops is the most economically valuable part of global biodiversity and is of paramount importance for future world crop production. The Biodiversity Convention has given a clear mandate for on-farm conservation. However, very little formal research has been done and no agreed set of scientific principles yet exists for on-farm conservation of genetic resources. This lack of scientific knowledge has not prevented an explosion of recommendations on how to conserve agrobiodiversity on-farm and it is possible to identify an emerging paradigm. Through a review of some of the assumptions on which this paradigm is based, we clearly show that if attempts to conserve agrobiodiversity on-farm are based on these misconceptions, they are likely to fail. By assessing the present activities of farmers, we propose a research agenda to increase the diversity available to farmers and to enhance farmers' capacity to manage this diversity dynamically. Increasing genetic diversification, combined with farmers' experimental abilities, and underpinned by the formal system, will ensure greater on-farm conservation of more useful genetic resources.

agriculture agrobiodiversity in situ conservation plant breeding plant genetic resources traditional farming. 


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Copyright information

© Chapman and Hall 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Wood
    • 1
  • Jillian M. Lenne´
    • 2
  1. 1.IGA, Heron's QuaySandside, Milnthorpe, CumbriaUK
  2. 2.ICRISATAndhra PradeshIndia

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