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Re: Indigenous methods of food preparation: what is their impact on food security and nutrition?

Salomón Salcedo FAO, Chile
27.05.2013
FSN Forum

Dear Mr. Mutandwa,

Thank you for posting the question related to indigenous methods of food preparation and their impact on food security and nutrition. Yesterday we posted links to our FORSANDINO project (2007-2011) on the forum, which took place in the countries of Ecuador and Peru. We would like to provide a specific example from the project, of the project’s work with the Puruway peoples of Ecuador, as a positive example of how to utilize the knowledge of indigenous peoples in the fight against food insecurity, malnutrition, and poverty.

The project sought to revive and disseminate ancestral Andean skills, knowledge and agricultural practices, recognizing their importance for the sustainability of local production systems. The key processes of training and exchange were part of the project´s annual operating plan, but their content was adapted to suit the needs of the beneficiaries, which evolved as the project progressed. The project was limited in duration, so as to facilitate and enhance on-going processes in the community, instead of leading the communities through the process through predefined activities.

The process began by raising awareness in the communities and other indigenous organizations of the province of Chimborazo, Ecuador about the importance of recovering and valuing the Puruway peoples´ traditional crops and farming practices. Workshops were held to have the community members define goals for their communities. The project’s framework called for the selection of community leaders, and these leaders, or chakareros, were selected by the members of the community.

Within the Puruway nation, the chakareros have traditionally served as the wise elders and role models for the community, knowledgeable about the agriculture of the region. They have also organized the distribution of food within the community. While the chakareros had continued to be present in their communities, their presence had been weakened over time by structural changes that had happened in the communities over many years.

Receiving crucial support from COMICH, the Confederation of the Indigenous Movement of Chimborazo, the FORSANDINO project created opportunities for Puruway community members to gather and preserve the knowledge of the chakareros through the creation of the Council of Chakareros. The exchange of experiences between chakareros and the community was one of the Council´s main tools to improve the community´s agricultural production. The FORSANDINO project supported the chakareros by providing training and connecting them to the community. It also encouraged them to not only maintain their farms, but improve them through the training they had received to be an example to their community.

The impact of the FORSANDINO project can be seen in the improvement in agricultural production, income, and nutrition compared to the project’s control groups. Communities in the project also demonstrated increased community participation, and the Council of Chakareros was also recognized by the government of Ecuador with full legal rights. While it is inevitably the responsibility of the  communities involved to continue to exchange the beneficial indigenous knowledge they maintain, as one participate stated, a fire is made with firewood, not kindling alone. The FORSANDINO project helped to reignite the keeping of traditional knowledge and beliefs of the communities involved in the project, one of the project’s overall aims.

This summary of the FORSANDINO project was taken from the following FAO website, titled 3 Successful Practices for Successful Policies:

http://www.fao.org/alc/file/media/pubs/2012/3_successful_practices_ec.pdf

Salomón Salcedo
Technical Secretary, International Year of Quinoa
Senior Policy Officer
FAO