In the last few years, Slow Food has had the opportunity to work in two territories in Mexico: Yucatán and Chiapas.
In Yucatán, starting in 2016, three Presidia were created: the hairless pig, the pumpkin seed, the Xunankab honey, with the aim of promoting a sustainable system of food production and consumption to promote the work of indigenous Mayan communities, and provide them with economic, cultural, social, and health benefits.
Since 2018, we began to work in Chiapas, with the launch of the milpa system Presidium that aims to increase the availability of agroecologically grown corn and strengthen the production chain of tostadas, making visible the role and knowledge of women and raising awareness to society about the importance of supporting these processes. One of the main activities has been the creation, in the municipality of Mitontic, of a group of seed guardians and a seed bank for the conservation of local varieties of corn, promoting their consumption and processing.
The actions have been possible thanks to the support of the W.K. Kellogg, and collaboration with different organizations. In Yucatán, El Hombre Sobre la Tierra and the U Yits Ka’an School of Ecological Agriculture stand out, and in Chiapas, Training, Environmental Advice and Defense of the Right to Health A.C. – CAMADDS, Clan Sur A.C. (which includes Ciserp A.C., Cofemo A.C., and Idesmac A.C.) and El Colegio de la Frontera Sur – Ecosur. In addition, Comida Lenta A.C. accompanied the processes in both territories.
Taking into account that we are in the final stretch of the project, we would like to share the main results obtained, evidenced in the Evaluation of the socioeconomic impacts of the project “Slow Food Mexico in Yucatán and Chiapas,” carried out by the organization Patrimonio, Desarrollo y Sustentabilidad A.C.
In Yucatán, more equitable distribution is observed in the income of the households part of the project, which also has a greater tendency to carry out agroecological, sustainable activities, with biocultural identities, such as beekeeping and traditional agriculture activities. Also, the project is contributing to the reduction of rural food poverty in 68% of the households with which it has a direct impact. It is highlighted that the many trainings have promoted the strengthening of cultural identity and care for the environment, the revaluation of traditional gastronomy, traditional planting practices, and aspects related to the commercialization of the Presidia.
In Chiapas, the project focuses on two different geographical areas: the first is made up of Comitán de Domínguez, Las Rosas, San Cristóbal de las Casas and Teopisca, and the second in Mitontic. On the first, the production and sale of corn tostadas represent an activity that contributes to the conservation of biocultural heritage, this is because they use elements typical of the region that combine traditional techniques in the preparation of toasts, varieties of local corn and it is a high-quality food product.
Among the improvements that were identified in the process of making tostadas are the making of different flavors, changes in the techniques for better transportation, the incorporation of eco-technologies, and construction of the Casa de Barro in Teopisca. At Mitontic, the cultivation of native seeds is one of the most important elements of autonomous culture. During the project, the women strengthened their productive capacities and acquired awareness about the consumption and production of good, clean, and healthy food through training and technical assistance in agroecological and nutrition practices.
Slow Food’s satisfaction with these advances is combined with the desire and commitment to continue the work in the future, emphasizing some elements that have to be strengthened. It will be important to promote the collective and participatory character within the Presidia, as well as the strengthening of organizations. Also, betting on diversification of productive systems and the importance of agroecological practices, due to the great risks that agro-industrial production entails and the environmental crisis, the latter for example, has manifested itself in recent months, through storms tropical areas that have affected the southern part of the state of Yucatán and part of Chiapas.
Finally, future actions will have to address a gender perspective that contributes to improving women’s capacities to generate income for their homes, as well as leadership within their communities. One more challenge will be linked to active participation within the Terra Madre Indigenous Network (ITM), which is the Slow Food network of indigenous communities and organizations, to bring the voices of indigenous peoples to the forefront of the debate on good, clean food. and fair.
It has been years of hard work, we look forward to continuing in the name of Slow Food’s universal values.