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The social life of seeds:an ethnographic exploration of farming knowledge in Kibtya of Amhara region, Ethiopia

YELEMTU, FASSIL,GEBEYEHU (2014) The social life of seeds:an ethnographic exploration of farming knowledge in Kibtya of Amhara region, Ethiopia. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF (The thesis is an examination of the role of farmers’ diverse seeds, their benefits and limitations in relation to the newly introduced high yielding varieties (modern seeds); on the mechanism by which how different local meanings, uses and understandings ) - Accepted Version


The intrinsic relationship and interaction between Farmers Seeds (FSs) and smallholder farmers have long been developed for many centuries so that farmers have acquired various forms of experiential knowledge about seed management and associated farming practices. FSs are often associated with their infra-specific diversity in which smallholder farmers are using them to meet their socio-cultural and economic needs in a range of agro-ecological zones.

However, introduction of new seeds such as High Yielding Varieties (HYVs) increasingly threaten knowledge and practices related to the cultivation of FSs. This study investigates different local meanings, uses and understandings of seeds and the process by which these understandings are learned. Drawing on ethnographic research in Kibtya and contextualizing this in relation to wider contexts, the thesis argues that perception towards seeds and productivity is not limited to narrowly economic evaluations; rather, it is intimately intertwined within a range of socio-cultural activities and farming practices and is consequently valued in a range of different ways. A central argument of the thesis is that farming knowledge is situated in people’s day-to-day interaction with one another and with the physical environments in which they work. It is not reducible to a system in the form of books or other forms of documents.

The thesis also develops insights of relevance to a range of policy and practitioner audiences. The study analyses the causes and consequences of ignorance on the socio-cultural aspects of smallholder farmers’ knowledge and the corresponding limitations of agricultural intervention programmes and associated policy approaches towards development. Thus, this thesis presents new findings which, it is hoped, will help governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to plan appropriate intervention programmes in which outside actors would be involved into an on-going socially constructed and negotiated process.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Anthropology, Department of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:25 Apr 2014 11:29

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