Farmers and researchers too often live and work in different realities. Researchers breed plant hybrids in the laboratory that are successful only under ideal conditions, requiring just the right inputs of water, fertilizer, and pesticides. For resource-poor farmers, however, such conditions simply don’t exist. As a result, they either obtain poor results from high-tech seeds or continue to do the best they can with local varieties.
Seeds and Synergies reflects on the innovative efforts of a group of Chinese researchers and extension agents to connect scientists and farmers. Their action research has enabled indigenous women and men in local communities to improve maize varieties jointly with professional plant breeders. This has invigorated maize production, created new livelihoods, and strengthened organizational capacities. The research has also resulted in policy changes in plant breeding, in the conservation of agricultural biodiversity, in the protection of indigenous knowledge, in farmer organization, and in the provision of services, notably extension.
This book will be of particular interest to rural development scholars, researchers, teachers and trainers, and field-level practitioners.
Yiching Song is a social scientist with a special interest in rural development (especially working with women), farmer organizations, and agricultural extension. She is currently a senior research scientist at the Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing, leading a long-term action research programme to create synergies between the seed systems of farmers and the Chinese Government.
Ronnie Vernooy is a senior programme specialist at the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada. He is also an adjunct professor at China Agriculture University.