Farmers’ motivations for landrace cereal cultivation in Sweden

Tove Ortman*, Emil Sandström, Jan Bengtsson, CA Watson, Göran Bergkvist

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


The interest in landrace cereals, i.e. genetically diverse varieties with historical origin, has increased in recent decades. While several studies exist on farmer’s motivations to grow landraces in a Global South context, investigations are much less common in the Global North. Through an interview study with 32 Swedish farmers that cultivate landrace cereals on a commercial scale, farmers’ motivations to grow landrace cereals were explored. The farms in the study ranged from medium sized to large. The majority were located in areas with marginal agricultural land and less fertile soil. All farms sold the landrace cereals at advantageous prices as niche products and all except one were certified organic. The farmers’ motivations for growing landraces were grouped around three themes: i) sustainable farming systems; ii) suitable agronomic traits; and iii) eco-nomic incentives. The first and overarching theme was that cultivation of landrace cereals fitted well with the farmers’ ideals on sustainable farming, with for example less intensive weed control and novel inter-cropping systems, as well as enabling production of wheat with baking quality on marginal agricultural land. Cultivation of landrace cereals was framed in contrast not only to conventional farming, but also to ‘conven-tionalised’ high input organic farming. The farmers regarded producing and marketing landrace cereals as an important foundation for more sustainable and multifunctional farming and food systems. This reflected the farmers’ perception of a lack of modern varieties suited for these systems as well as the ability of landraces to buffer risks of crop failure on marginal land.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-268
Number of pages22
JournalBiological Agriculture and Horticulture
Issue number4
Early online date27 Apr 2023
Publication statusFirst published - 27 Apr 2023


  • Agrobiodiversity
  • cereal production
  • farmer motivations
  • landraces
  • multifunctional agriculture


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