As climate change creates new challenges for farmers in Mexico, different landraces could prove extremely valuable to farmers. Different varieties of maize are able to grow in harsh weather conditions, and some could hold the key to using fewer chemicals in farming.
Over centuries, indigenous growers bred some 59 different native varieties of maize, or “landraces,” according to CIMMYT, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, which preserves the seeds of some 48,000 maize varieties from all over the world at a seed bank in the town of Texcoco near Mexico City. Unlike commercial varieties sold by companies like Monsanto, landraces are highly adapted to the soil and climate of the communities where they are grown.
“Farmers keep selecting seeds from plants that do survive in extreme conditions to plant them in the following year,” said Martha Willcox, a geneticist at CIMMYT.
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