While fewer than 20% reported growing less maize 10 years ago, over 50% reported growing more maize 10 years ago, and 46% at least twice as much. This implies that any sort of de facto equilibrium that describes farmers planting maize at this time is unstable as farmers are decreasing maize acreage, with corresponding consequences for number of varieties and effective population sizes. For many of these cases, farmers who previously sold some of their harvest are decreasing acreage to infra-subsistence levels. Over the last 10-15 years, the increase in coffee planted in lowland areas and the increase in migration across the region may be bidding up the wage rate and making maize production less economic. An important question for further (interdisciplinary) study is whether or when decreasing planting sizes affect the crop population genetics.

3.3 Maize population structure

The sources of farmer's maize seed are reported in Table 7-6. Most farmers had acquired their seed from their fathers, followed by others in the same village. The blue maize is a smaller population and more of the farmers have maintained it for their entire lives. This is another indication of the precarious status of the blue maize within the region. Farmers may rely on seeds from the same village because of the adaptation of seeds to local conditions. The steep and varied terrain may create very different climatic conditions in neighboring towns. Another reason for the predominance of same village seed is because of social networks that allow farmers to know who would be a good seed source.

Table 7-6. Source of maize seed

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