1. Maize as a genetic resource
- To gain a better knowledge of the maize varieties
still prevalent, it is suggested that collections of genetic materials be
carried out in the Department of Huehuetenango, for a more thorough
identification of the landlandraces present, comparing them with the
information given by Wellhausen et al. (1957) and verifying whether the
genetic resource has been preserved over a period of 40 years.
To diminish the risk of losses of existing genetic
material, it is important to develop maize germplasm conservation mechanisms
both in situ, strengthening the role of rural communities in the conservation
of biodiversity, and ex situ, by establishing a germplasm bank. Both of these
measures are considered the basis of a maize improvement programme founded on
the local culture and needs.
- In the same way, it is also necessary to determine the areas where teosinte is still present, also planning a study of the possibilities of its conservation in situ, as has been done in the biosphere reserve of the Sierra de Manantlán in Mexico, where Mexican teosintle is preserved (Benz, 1988).
2. Maize as a crop
- It is fundamental that the national authority for
agricultural technology improvement and transfer (ICTA) be able to increase
its programmes for the improvement of maize on the basis of the genetic
diversity present in the Department of Huehuetenango and the active
participation of the men and women who farm the region, who have specific
knowledge of the crops they need and of the cultivation practices of this
- In recent years there has been an increase in the practice of selecting seed material with the participation of the populations directly involved in growing the crop. This has required the application of methods that imply the following stages:
- Identification of the farmers' needs as regards the specific crop.
- Quest for the genetic material that responds to the farmers' needs.
- Field trials with the farmers to verify their acceptability.
- Wide distribution to the farmers of the genetic materials they prefer.
- The technology improvement programmes of the various institutions (government, universities, NGOs) should deepen and broaden their studies of maize farming, on aspects related to associating maize with other crops, organic fertilisation, agro-forestry systems, etc. all of which could improve its profitability by taking into account the essential aspects of the conservation of the genetic diversity of maize and consequently of the local farming systems and the populations' food security.
3. Recognising the participation of women in the farming and conservation of maize
- Both the governmental and the non-governmental
organisations operating in the Department of Huehuetenango could include in
their programmes activities that include supporting and strengthening the role
of women in the whole production process of maize farming, so that they may
introduce innovations in the way they intervene in the farming, conservation
and use of maize.
- Although we have been able in this study to determine the responsibility of women in the process of seed selection, through which they influence the preservation of the genetic material and prevalently the conservation of certain specific varieties, it appears appropriate to deepen and broaden our understanding of the different motives for the domestication and selection of the different varieties of maize. To do this, it is important to carry out a quantitative study of the different uses of maize and how these relate to the genetic materials present in the area of the study, as well as of the roles and responsibilities of the men and women farmers in deciding which materials are used and conserved. The stage of shelling the maize cobs selected for seed constitutes only one of the selection mechanisms. It is of interest to combine this with a knowledge of the other motives of selection linked to the evolutionary process under domestication.