An integral component of the Indigenous Terra Madre Pueblos de America gathering is the development of ideas and projects the delegates could create and implement in their communities to propel the engine of change.
Each project is tied to their deep rooted traditions, while looking at the future through technology and education to understand their place in the local and global food system.
Projects ranged from educational platforms for farmers to reinforce the importance of returning to agroecological techniques, seed saving, and the return to endemic products that had sustained the community for centuries.
“In my region of Peru, many indigenous farmers have turned to cultivating monocrops to fulfill the needs of a global market. Be it quinoa or white potatoes, they have stripped the land of its biodiversity to plant one product, damaging the ecosystem, and further complicating their food sovereignty,” said Nely Roxana Tineo Yali from Peru.
Peru is not the only place where indigenous farmers have fallen for the modern agricultural models that falsely offers them a market for products grown in monocrops, that eventually renders them dependent on the outside market of large commodities, nutrient-poor and soulless food.
“In my community people have, for centuries, had their own chagras or garden, from where they could nourish their families regardless of the outside market forces. This tradition is dying as people see quick money on cultivating a monocrop, or not cultivating at all, and rather rely on the products they can purchase at the store. I want to sensitize my people on the importance of returning to our chagras, to have a place we can continue to grow our own food, and preserve our heritage and traditions,” said Julian Andres Monjonboy Ordonez
Other topics floating in the room were the importance of natural ecosystems, their intrinsic value and the impact damaging techniques have on the well-being of their communities, and the environment. Finding the long chain of problems damaging practices like deforestation, use of agrochemicals, and monocrops, create on the long run.
“In my region of Tlalcuapan, we harvest, consume and sell wild mushrooms from the forest. It is an intricate part of our customs and identity, with 35 varieties we consume often and have a strong tie to our identity and food traditions, to the almost 500 named varieties in the region. Deforestation is threatening these wild mushrooms, reducing their habitat and the needed humidity for them to grow. Reducing the mushrooms can also have an impact on other species in the area, plus as we lose varieties, we lose words from our native language that our children won’t ever know,” said Isamel Bello Cervantes from Mexico.
The delegates worked in groups to bounce ideas on each other about the viability of their projects, and the foreseeable needs they would each have to make it happen. They also worked with professional educators in how to conceptualize a project, from idea to fruition, how to find funding sources, and how to sharpen their pitching skills at the time to meet with the community members, governments, or NGOs.