Market-based incentives for conserving diversity on farms: the case of rice landraces in Central Tarai, Nepal
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Market-based incentives are one means of encouraging farmers to grow landraces that are also of social value, thereby contributing to the conservation of crop genetic diversity on farms - and in principle, the cheapest. This study uses a participatory, market systems approach supplemented by baseline data from an ongoing project to analyze markets for rice landraces and modern varieties in Nepal. Nepal is located in the area of origin and diversity for Asian rice. With the exception of traditional Basmati rice (which is of high aromatic quality), most rice landraces are traded through small-scale informal channels. Traders earn higher profits handling modern varieties than landraces, with the exception of Basmati, which competes with modern varieties. The superior consumption qualities of Basmati are valued in markets, but conserving these landraces may not have great social value. Furthermore, farmers who grow Basmati are clearly better off than those who do not. Findings raise questions about the role of market-based incentives for conserving landraces on farms, the costs entailed in establishing a structure to generate them, and about efficiency vs. equity considerations in the design of conservation programs.
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