The Cooked is the Kept: Factors Shaping the Maintenance of Agro-biodiversity in the Andes


This study examines farmers’ agro-biodiversity decision-making through an Andean case study, and expands upon earlier approaches in two ways. First, it incorporates cultural variables into an econometric analytic framework encompassing the influence of demographic, farm physical and market factors on agro-biodiversity. Second, it encompasses a suite of different richness measures of inter- as well as intraspecific agro-biodiversity.

Data are drawn from interviews with the heads of 89 farm households in Cotacachi, Ecuador. ANOVA and poisson regressions are used to analyze the relations between explanatory variables and agro-biodiversity measures. Results show that culture and subsistence play key roles in fostering diversity maintenance; those who strongly identify with local Kichwa cultural traditions and those whose production is mainly subsistence-oriented grow the most diverse fields. The findings indicate that initiatives supporting cultural revitalization and agriculture oriented at home consumption will likely enhance in situ diversity maintenance.