FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

With a population of some 50 million people, the 826 indigenous peoples living in Latin America and the Caribbean are an indisputable source of identity and diversity. Their agri-food systems, traditional diet and sustainable natural resource production and management systems constitute a resource of incomparable value for achieving a world without hunger.

Indigenous peoples and food security in Latin America and the Caribbean

Indigenous peoples have made an unparalleled contribution to taming the agricultural biodiversity that feeds humanity today, even though their food insecurity rates exceed those of the non-indigenous population several times over. Their traditional food systems, which have provided the population with varied, balanced and healthy diets for millennia, are now threatened by agribusiness, monocultures and the loss of related knowledge.

At least a third of the development megaprojects in developing countries of Latin America and the Caribbean encroach into indigenous territories, affecting their legal security and conditions for the reproduction of livelihood strategies.

Acknowledgement of the rights of indigenous people in Latin America has provided significant opportunities for overcoming the vulnerability and backwardness imposed by the historical process of being deprived of their livelihood. This includes a growing recognition of their territorial rights, their knowledge systems and various tools for safeguarding their social, economic and cultural rights that are nevertheless still far from building a uniform scenario in the region and even further from putting desirable effects in practice.

The FAO stresses the importance of having indigenous people as strategic partners in the fight against food insecurity. This is set out in the FAO Policy on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (2010), which acknowledges that the agri-food systems developed by such peoples, their traditional diets and their systems for the sustainable production and management of natural resources constitute a resource of incomparable value for achieving a world without hunger.

With a view to helping give them visibility and prominence in the design and implementation of public policies appropriate to their situation, the FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean has begun a profitable dialogue with indigenous peoples of the region and is progressing toward building a common agenda.

This renewed commitment of the FAO to the rights of indigenous peoples has earned it an invitation from the United Nations system to coordinate the Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Peoples' Issues (IASG).