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Home gardens sustain crop diversity and improve farm resilience in Candelaria Loxicha, Oaxaca, Mexico

08 / 10 / 2009, Eldis Biodiversity

The home garden is an integral part of smallholders’ production strategies. This paper investigates how home gardens are integrated into local farming practices and how these influence biodiversity in Candelaria Loxicha, Oaxaca, Mexico. The paper finds that home gardens harbour high levels of biodiversity.Further findings include:

most home gardens are multipurpose, providing goods for home consumption, sales, environmental services, and experimentation and learning
plant diversity is higher in younger home gardens and in home gardens where owners actively exchange plant material with other people
through practices such as plant exchange, seed storage, and the dispersion of seeds in different land uses, farmers avoid homogenisation and encourage plant diversity
farmers manage their lands for resilience taking advantage of the patchy distribution of resources and optimising labour allocation
both men and women participate in the establishment, care and management of home gardens, yet men and women take interest in and responsibility for different plants
participation in communal or political work enhances the ability of male farmers to become engaged in exchange networks
through their increased mobility, migrants move plants both from abroad and to their international destinations.

The paper recommends that:

future research and policies must be particularly responsive to social dynamics underlying land use management systems
the role of migration and other adaptive strategies of farmers which impact on decisions related to practices that enhance biodiversity have to be understood and taken into account.

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