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Diverse varieties and diverse markets: Scale-related maize "profitability crossover" in the central Mexican highlands

Author: Keleman, A.
Author: Hellin, J.
Author: Flores, D.
Year: 2013
ISSN: 0300-7839
Abstract: Discussions of maize agriculture in Mexico often treat 'maize' as a uniform commodity, sold in a relatively homogeneous market, and for which there is a single, 'economically rational' production strategy. Based on qualitative research on maize value chains, we suggest that this unitary notion entails significant oversimplifications. We offer a heuristic model of farm-size related 'profitability crossover,' based on observations of highland maize varieties? roles within a series of farm-cycle opportunities and constraints. We suggest that while improved maize varieties may be profitable for large-scale farms taking advantage of economies of scale, landrace cultivation may offer advantages to small- to medium-scale farmers, who utilize a diverse range of input strategies, and sell their products in specialty markets. Understanding maize agriculture as a multi-product and multi-market pursuit rather than uniform commodity production would add greater depth to policy and academic debates.
Language: English
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Type: Article
Pages: 683-705
Journal issue: 5
Journal: Human Ecology
Journal volume: 41
DOI: 10.1007/s10745-013-9566-z
Keywords: Mexico
Keywords: Maize
Keywords: Agro-biodiversity
Keywords: Agricultural development
Keywords: small-scale farmers
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  • Socioeconomics
    Including topics such as farming systems, markets, impact & targeting, innovations, and GIS

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