Seed Diversity in the Drylands: Women and farming in South India
Seeds are central to farming and food production. Saving, selecting, reproducing, storing and sowing those seeds is often dependent on women’s knowledge and expertise. In the dryland farming systems of South India’s Deccan Plateau, women’s roles in maintaining seed and crop diversity enable rural families to cope with the region’s many environmental demands. Here seeds and their management form an economy all of their own, whereby self-reliance in seed, crop diversity and nutrition are closely intertwined. But increasingly, seeds are becoming the ‘property’ of the private sector and big business. This undermines the scope for farmers to save their own seed through a mix of technological, legal and economic strategies. This has serious implications for women as autonomous seed producers. The author argues that a radical re-orientation of public policies is needed to support autonomous seed production. Poverty alleviation and biodiversity conservation.