Rural and Tribal Women in Agrobiodiversity Conservation: An Indian Case Study

RAP Publication 2002/08

Food and Agriculture Organization
Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Bangkok, Thailand

M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation
Chennai, India


R. Rengalakshmi (coordinator), G. Alagukannan, N. Anil Kumar, V. Arivudai Nambi, V. Balakrishnan, K. Balasubramanian, Bibhu Prasad Mohanty, D. Dhanapal, M. Geetha Rani, G. Girigan, Hemal Kanvinde, Israel Oliver King, Prathiba Joy, T. Ravishankar, Saujanendra Swain, Sushanta Chaudhry, P. Thamizoli, Trilochan Ray and L. Vedavalli

Table of Contents

The designations employed and presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. Opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author or authors alone and do not imply any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO.

ISBN: 971-614-019-3

© FAO 2002

All rights reserved.

Reproduction and dissemination of material in this information product for educational or other non-commercial purposes are authorized without prior written permission from copyright holders provided the source is fully acknowledged. Reproduction of material in this information product for resale or other commercial purposes is prohibited without written permission of the copyright holders. Application for such permission should be addressed to the Meetings and Publications Officer, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Maliwan Mansion, Phra Athit Road Bangkok 10200, Thailand.

For copies, contact:
Revathi Balakrishnan, Ph.D.
Regional Rural Sociologist and Women in Development Officer
FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Bangkok 10200, Thailand
E-mail: [email protected]
Fax: 66-2-697-4445

Table of Contents


Foreword - R.B. Singh

Foreword - M.S. Swaminathan


Women - producers, providers and managers
Study area: land and people

Kolli hills

Gender issues and concerns in local agrobiodiversity

Gender division of labour in farming systems
Gender differential preferences in crop selection
Access and control over resources

Approaches used in enhancing local agrobiodiversity

The economic stake in conservation
Industrial links, e.g. niche marketing
Ensuring the value of agrobiodiversity
Community gene bank and community herbarium
Appropriating value to genetic resources

Conservation measures

Promotion of on-farm conservation
Seed exchange and community seed bank
Coping mechanisms/techniques used to restore plant or varietal losses during agricultural disasters, civil war, etc
Institutional partnerships
Relevant policies advocated

Lessons and challenges

Lessons learned from the case project
Gaps and challenges

Recommendations for country action to promote women’s role in local agrobiodiversity

Research and development



Annex 1: Available rice genetic resources/germplasm in the Jeypore tract
Annex 2. Inter-specific diversity in minor millets
Annex 3. List of traditional varieties of rice known in Wayanad
Annex 4. Gender roles in little millet cultivation in the Kolli hills
Annex 5. Medicinal uses of njavara