Indigenous peoples continue to face marginalization and exclusion from vital resources and opportunities, leading to alarming rates of poverty and malnutrition, particularly among women and young people. In some part of the world, they often live in conditions of high vulnerability, high food insecurity and lack of access to human rights in general. Many times, from the State, there are a whole series of programs and investments, but they encounter multiple barriers so that these investments can generate an endogenous development process. This situation is aggravated by high rates of food insecurity.
In the north of Argentina, through its participation in the project Niyat, Slow Food, with the general coordination of Fundación Gran Chaco and the support of European Union, has been working to empower these groups, to create a new form of indigenous peoples governance that involves co-designing public policies based on rights in the rural areas.
Reflecting on two of the fundamental pillars of the Slow Food movement, Education and Biodiversity, a key part of the work is based on the food security component, focusing on promoting agroecological practices and providing training and resources to help indigenous peoples become more self-sufficient and food-secure. In 2022, the project made significant strides towards this goal by finalizing the creation of 127 agroecological modules, which were distributed among various communities in the provinces of Chaco, Formosa, and Salta.
“The importance of the Niyat modules is the leadership it generates among indigenous women within isolated communities in the semi-arid Chaco, where we have been developing this innovative proposal. – Enlightens Mauricio Tinari, Fundación Gran Chaco territorial technician – The generation of these food modules is very important not only for food sovereignty, family food security, but also to generate some small sales points in different fairs in the area, in order to generate small incomes for families of small producers who are impoverished.”
These modules are designed to support indigenous peoples produce their own food, sell their surpluses, and improve their overall well-being.
They are a replicable and adaptable model for different contexts in the Gran Chaco region, based on agroecological practices that combine elements of horticultural production with sustainable use of forest fruits and the breeding of animals adapted to the local context.
In addition to creating the agroecological modules, the project also provided training to in agroecological agriculture.
The training plan aimed to increase the food security of the participants through direct transmission of the content of the handbook “Proyecto Niyat: Módulo de Seguridad Alimentaria” in a “hands-on” approach, learning by doing and teaching by producing.
As part of this training, the project team organized on Earth Markets and Small-chain Circuits, which connected project beneficiary producers and Latin Americans experts. The workshop provided valuable insights into the importance of short marketing circuits and Earth Markets for local producers so the participants of the project could have insight on how to sell their production surpluses and generate income.
“Participating in trainings such as those conducted as part of the Niyat project are crucial for us. – Irma Saravia, indigenous woman from the Wichí people, explains – Sharing knowledge is the foundation of indigenous peoples, who have always built strategies for the future from these moments together. In particular, agroecology is at the heart of our activities and now I can see the results of the effort as a woman. My goal is always to move on and dream of something big. My idea now is teaching my community so that they can realize that everything is possible, that a woman can do everything.”
Read about the project here
Managed by Fundación Gran Chaco in coordination with the Rural Communities Network (RCR), the Rural Women’s Cooperative (COMAR), the gender area of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (Flacso) and Slow Food, the Niyat project aims to strengthen women in order to generate a new indigenous governance for the co-design of public policies based on rights in the rural areas of the Gran Chaco of Argentina. The objective is to promote indigenous leadership by promoting a process of inter-institutional articulation to consolidate the communities as a local subject protagonist of the interventions in their territory, in dialogue with the State.