Seminar to focus on indigenous seed systems in West Africa

October 29, 2012

Kristal Jones, doctoral student in rural sociology, will present "Circles or Lines? Exploring Indigenous Geographies and Economies of Seed Systems in West Africa" on from noon to 1 p.m. on Nov. 14, in Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library on the University Park campus of Penn State. In this seminar, Jones will talk about her research on the indigenous seed systems of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

Jones says that indigenous geographies and economies continue to be marginalized by many development projects in favor of conventional market-based strategies.

"In contrast to a linear supply chain model that can be scaled up and out, local seed systems in West Africa can be described as circular and based on self-provision rather than efficiency maximization, said Jones. "Seed production, distribution and access networks for varieties of local grain seeds have historically supported seed systems that are reciprocal and built upon a range of personal and social priorities."

She notes that many smallholders who do not fully integrate into a completely commodified seed production system will remain excluded from market-oriented development in the push for a new Green Revolution in Africa. However, by focusing on the economies of local seed systems, development practitioners may gain a better understanding of alternative approaches that take into account local priorities.

"This presentation will explore the indigenous geographies and economies of local seed systems in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, as depicted in participatory seed network mapping exercises and interviews with farmers who have access to newly established seed markets and new varieties. Initial analysis suggests that local seed systems will incorporate new varieties and connections to formal markets into existing systems, while retaining the structures and connections that allow for informal and noncash exchanges and provisioning," said Jones.

The presentation is part of an ongoing series highlighting the importance of indigenous knowledge and is sponsored by the Interinstitutional Consortium on Indigenous Knowledge (ICIK) and the Penn State Social Sciences Library. It is free and open to the public. For more information on ICIK, go to online.

If you anticipate needing accommodations or have questions about the physical access provided, contact Helen Sheehy at 814-863-1347 or, in advance of your participation.


Last Updated January 09, 2015