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X. Other considerations

The selection of the 6 communities for the study was made according to criteria signalling the presence of cultural-plant wealth. Thus it can be observed that in the selected communities, five languages in addition to Spanish are spoken, as an expression of the ethnic diversity present in these sites. Similarly, the biodiversity is represented by three distinct life zones. At another level, the study included both men and women, with a slightly greater number of women due to the particular circumstances in each of the sites where the workshops took place.

It was found that in all cases, the materials used were local varieties (landlandraces), since many of the people could recognise the advantages of each of these materials according to their environmental adaptability, resistance to pests and diseases and culinary qualities. For example, in some areas, they prefer to plant yellow maize, because it is faster growing and more resistant to pests. In areas where the soil is poor, the sowing of black maize is preferred. All participants agreed that these materials have a more pleasant taste than the improved varieties, which is why their preference for indigenous materials remains.

Although the farmers, both men and women, are aware of the use of improved varieties, they recognise that these varieties require greater capital investment since they need more inputs and labour in the growing process. In addition, others refer to security as a factor that influences their choice of materials and said that they felt insecure planting seed that was not totally familiar.

With reference to the conservation of maize resources, they said that the introduction of horticultural crops such as garlic and onions or cauliflowers could eventually replace the farming of maize, especially in areas where the soil and irrigation are adequate.

The local materials are identified basically by their colour, where they have different names depending on the local languages. It was also observed that many of these materials are perfectly suited to the specific regions of the study and to some extent are unique to these areas. It was said earlier that attempts to sow genetic materials from extraneous climatic zones produced poor results.

The use of the most widespread indigenous genetic materials leads one to assume that the farming techniques applied in maize farming are predominantly the same as those used for centuries.

However, intensive land-use has led to the need for the additional input of inorganic fertilisers; but, due to the additional costs incurred, there is a need to develop a fertilising technique which combines both organic and inorganic methods. At the same time, the increase in pests and diseases has led to a greater need for chemical products, as opposed to organic ones, especially with regard to pest control in stored crops. In general, it may be noted that the communities are open to the knowledge and use of new technologies, but they are puzzled about their application to the resources they possess at a regional and family level, as well as about the changes they might bring to their multi-cropping system.

Photo 7
The workshops fostered direct consultation with members of different communities

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