© FAO/ Alessandra Benedetti

Key concepts


The definitions, key concepts and outcomes of the study were developed over the course of two workshops involving experts from a range of disciplines from CGIAR centers, FAO and national research institutions.

1. Markets

The study is focusing on local rural markets in case study countries where seed is exchanged between a buyer and a seller in a voluntary transaction. Seeds from either the formal or informal sector may be involved in the transaction (e.g. certified or non-certified seeds). The focus is on retail transactions – e.g. the farmer is the purchaser of the seed.

2. Marketshed

We define marketsheds are defined as a geographical area and associated population that has real or potential trade relationships with a market center. Within the marketshed there may be several market outlets of varying size and scope, although usually one is dominant in terms of size and function. We use the term marketshed to give the sense of a system or network of market flows within a given area (e.g. it is not just a zone with some markets located in it, but rather it is a trading network with links between market outlets).

3. Access to crop genetic resources markets

We define access as having three dimensions:
a) physical availability,
b) information
c) cost.

Crop genetic diversity is the key measurement of physical availability in the rural marketplace.  Data on variety names, agro-morphological and economic traits as well as genetic diversity at molecular level have been collected and used for developing measures of diversity at market level. Records on the information provided by sellers to prospective seed buyers, as well as the degree to which varieties were distinguished provided a basis for measuring information in the marketplace. Finally data on sales prices, credit availability and transaction costs provided a basis for estimating cost.

4. Farmer Welfare

The project includes an analysis of how market access to CGR affects farmers’ participation in seed markets, their use of crop genetic resources on-farm and the welfare of the farm household.  The project uses a broad definition of welfare and includes indicators such as dietary diversity, resiliency of food security, asset holdings and consumption expenditures.

5. The sustainable utilization of crop genetic resources

We define the sustainable utilization of crop genetic resources as: “A pattern of utilization of crops and varieties that generates three main categories of benefits”:

- Private benefits to farmers via the consumption and production "services" that genetic resources (in interaction with human and environmental factors) provide to farmers

Global public benefits in the reduction of genetic erosion (maintaining genetic option values) and
Local public benefits of reducing genetic vulnerability (increasing resilience).  

The scale at which these benefits are realized varies. In the first category of benefits, we are looking at farm level benefits. For the second, the relevant unit is a generic population over time and for the third the relevant scale is regional. Trade-offs between the three categories of benefits are likely, and assessing these is one of the intended outcomes of the study.