Genepool Sacrificed for Yield

Fri, 04/12/2009 – Jude Fanton

Those who feed the cities grow crops such as okra, maize, onions, tomatoes, gingers and the pulses that typify Rajasthani cuisine on a large scale in the peri-urban area.

 

Farmers seem to be using commercial seeds (we have seen large empty packets of F1 hybrid eggplant and okra lying on the footpath).

 

On the markets we observed that there was no variation between stalls in the varieties of tomatoes, capsicums, small purple eggplants.

 

IMAGE Market stall in Udaipur

Not that we see commercial seeds as a complete no-no. Our point is that when farmers replace their traditional local varieties by commercial seeds (often for the sake of productivity) they lose not only some of the genepool but also the ability to continue the adaptation process for climate change-friendly characteristics. These are found in traditional varieties that may yield less but are able to cope with extreme weather. Rajasthan has a very arid climate. The farmers have selected for drought resistance in the past and therefore for times ahead.