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Improving the performance of agricultural markets is a keystone of current agricultural development policy. A major thrust of this effort is to increase the returns to agricultural production by improving farmer's access to markets. Markets have been found to be an increasingly important source of the seeds of crops and varieties low income farmers need to improve their livelihoods, encompassing both the formal and informal seed sector. Markets also have major impacts on agricultural biodiversity, by affecting farmers' choice of crops and varieties to grow.
They are not, however, a homogenous institution, although all too frequently policies and regulations are developed as though they were. Markets vary considerably depending on the participants, on the institutions that govern how and what they exchange, and on local agricultural, economic and social conditions. Developing effective strategies to improve the way agricultural markets work, including how farmers use crop genetic resources, requires understanding of these variations.
"Seed Trade in Rural Markets" presents a unique set of case studies from Bolivia, India, Kenya, Mali and Mexico on agricultural seed and product markets that describe three important market characteristics expected to affect farmers' access to seeds and varieties: the range of varieties on offer, the information provided about them, and relative prices. The case studies also provide information on social, agricultural and economic factors which may be affecting the market availability, information, and cost of crop genetic resources, and ultimately the capacity to stimulate agricultural development.