Preserving native maize and culture in Mexico

These indigenous farmers are custodians of maize biodiversity, growing seeds passed down over generations. Their maize varieties represent a portion of the diversity of the 59 native Mexican races of maize, or landraces, which first developed from wild grasses at the hands of their ancestors. These different races (or types) of maize diversified through generations of selective breeding, adapting to the environment, climate and cultural needs of the different communities.

CIMMYT launched the four-year participatory plant breeding project to understand marginalized communities’ unique makeup and needs – including maize type, local climates, farming practices, diseases and culture – and include farmers in breeding maize to suit these needs.