A network-based approach to analyse the coexistence of certified and peasant seeds in West Africa

Antoine Doncieux, Jankowski Frédérique, Adeline Barnaud

Contact: adeline.barnaud@ird.fr

Crop diversity is essential for the development of sustainable agriculture in the face of global change. In West Africa, this diversity is mainly managed in family farming through peasant seeds, which represent more than 70% of the seeds used. However, certified seed from genetic improvement is increasingly being distributed to improve agricultural productivity and food security. To date peasant and certified seeds coexist in family farming systems. However, little is known about the coexistence modalities in the local seed network and its impact on crop biodiversity conservation. Using network analysis, we present a study of the circulation of millet seeds according to their certified or peasant origin by characterizing the structure, extent and modalities of seed exchanges. Based on surveys conducted in Senegal, our results suggest that the origin of seeds shapes farmers' seed networks. The acquisition of certified seeds from an agricultural trader also modifies the context and the terms of exchange. Nevertheless, after harvest, certified and peasant seeds are mixed and integrated into an open and complex social network involving multiple actors. Our results provide a better understanding of the seed exchange networks mobilized by farmers to access and disseminate millet varieties. This study highlights the need to increase our knowledge on local seed management to feed thinking on the governance and conservation of crop diversity.

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