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Biodiversity –Agriculture – Traditional Knowledge

Preserving endangered foods, providing support to small-scale producers and creating new, local markets is Slow Food’s unique approach to preserving agricultural biodiversity in a world where less than 30 species of plants provide food for more than 95% of the world’s population. In addition, our events, educational activities and campaigns being held every day by volunteers and Terra Madre food communities are teaching people how to make food choices which are better for our environment.

Since 1996, Slow Food has added more than 800 endangered traditional foods to the Ark of Taste catalogue. This has led to the creation of 300 Presidia– sustainable food production – projects across 46 countries. Presidia bring together small groups of producers who receive training on protocol development for sustainable food production and distribution. Currently, 10,000 producers are involved in Presidia projects in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and, in Latin America.

By supporting sustainable agriculture, we not only avoid environmental problems associated with conventional agriculture, but we also prevent other destructive land-uses for short-term gains. For example, by increasing the quality of their production, farmers from the National Cacao Presidium in Amazonian Ecuador have ensured that their community will not sell land to logging or mining companies, as was foreseeable.

Slow Food projects follow the belief that the best agriculture for many of the poorest regions of the world is one that does not ignore the wisdom of local communities and is in harmony with the ecosystems that surround them. Indigenous people play a critical role in showing the way to preserve biodiversity and protect ecosystems. These guardians of traditional knowledge are given a voice through our Terra Madre network, and are able to exchange information with researchers and share with youth best practices for protecting landscapes and environments.

Maori Organic Producers food community - New Zealand

I am concerned about the social and ecological pathways we are taking. The concepts used by Slow Food relate to our own Maori philosophy of sustainability. I believe there is a place for Maori science and knowledge and other indigenous wisdoms. My evaluation from what I have witnessed at Terra Madre is that the future of humanity and the natural world as industrialization of food, assisted by western science, overlooks the conservation of the ecological integrity of our indigenous products as we have experienced in Aotearoa (NZ). We are working to promote the concept of Slow Food in Aotearoa.

Iwi Puihi Tipene, Terra Madre Delegate 2006

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