The practice of saving seeds from local varieties of crops and vegetables is integral for preserving agricultural biodiversity. After reviewing the current (1) seed saving activities practiced worldwide, (2) agricultural industry and farmer behaviour in Japan, and (3) seed system used in Japan, we conducted a survey to determine methods for the cultivation of homegrown seeds on a regional scale. Questionnaires were mailed to 7,068 families (including full-time and part-time farmers and home gardeners) in the Noto Peninsula, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, and 1,662 responses were obtained. We found that a majority of the respondents purchased seeds; however, some seeds were grown locally, and were mostly homegrown. Contrary to general expectations, the economic incentive (“good market price”) played an insignificant role in crop cultivation continuity.
Cluster analysis resulted in four groups of crops, according to the rate of on-farm seed saving and changes in cultivation over a 30-year period. Certain crops, such as soybean and azuki bean, were frequently grown using on-farm produced seeds. Different conservation strategies were required for crops in each cluster due to their unique characteristics. Our data form the basis for promoting diversity and local crop cultivation by farmers in industrialized countries.