Farmers’ motivations and values for the conservation of vegetable diversity in Japan

Ms Ayako Kawai1

1Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University


Farmers’ continued seed saving on-farm is vital for the conservation of crop diversity. However, farmers’ seed saving has been marginalized with the limitation of legislation and the lack of farmer-incentives, particularly in industrialized countries. As such, it is important to understand human cultures that find value to save seeds. This presentation explores differing motivations and underlying socio-cultural context among five types of actors, traditional, local, organic, lifestyle farmers, and seed companies, taking Japan as a case study. The notion of ancestral seeds was crucial for traditional farmers, which was underlain by the traditional family system. Local farmers linked between local varieties with their identity and were motivated to conserve local varieties. Organic farmers were emotionally attached to seeds that they save and felt responsible for managing them in good condition. Lifestyle farmers viewed seeds as a living entity like humans and enjoyed seed saving. Seed companies were embedded in the traditional custom of the seed industry, which created a unique practice. Based on the sense of responsibility, they maintained local varieties. While five actors’ motivation varied, they commonly felt intimacy to crops and recognized crops agency.


PhD Candidate, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Human Ecology

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