Lessons from FAO projects with Indigenous Peoples
Indigenous Peoples have been the stewards of the land for thousands of years, practicing sustainable agriculture that has sustained their communities and the environment. However, the relationship between indigenous peoples and agriculture is complex, as it has been shaped by centuries of colonization, exploitation, and displacement.
In many parts of the world, Indigenous Peoples have been forced to abandon their traditional agriculture practices in favour of a more “modern” form of agriculture. This often meant the introduction of new crops, farming methods, and the use of chemicals and other technologies that were foreign to indigenous communities. As a result, many Indigenous Peoples have lost touch with their ancestral knowledge, leading to a decline in biodiversity and the loss of important food sources.
In recent years, there has been a growing movement to revive and preserve traditional indigenous agriculture practices. This has been driven by a recognition of the importance of indigenous knowledge and the need to promote sustainable and culturally appropriate forms of agriculture.
Indigenous Peoples have a rich and diverse body of knowledge and practices related to agriculture, including a deep understanding of local ecosystems, crop diversity, and the use of traditional seeds and plants. This knowledge is critical to the sustainable management of resources and the protection of biodiversity.
The revival of traditional indigenous agriculture has many benefits, including the preservation of cultural heritage, the promotion of food sovereignty, and the protection of the environment. By embracing traditional practices, indigenous peoples are able to reclaim control over their food systems and strengthen their connection to the land.
However, the revival of traditional indigenous agriculture is not without its challenges. Indigenous Peoples face a number of barriers, including lack of access to land, limited access to markets, and limited resources for research and development. Additionally, many indigenous communities have experienced trauma and loss as a result of colonization, and this can impact their ability to participate in agriculture and other livelihood activities.
The relationship between Indigenous Peoples and agriculture is complex, but it is clear that the revival of traditional indigenous agriculture practices has the potential to provide significant benefits for indigenous communities and the environment. By working together with indigenous peoples and supporting their efforts to revive and preserve traditional agriculture practices, we can help to ensure that these important cultural and environmental resources are protected for future generations.
What have we learnt from evaluations
Acknowledge the rights and cultural diversity of Indigenous Peoples: FAO must recognize that Indigenous Peoples have their own rights, including the right to self-determination, and that their cultural diversity is a strength that should be preserved and respected.
Involve Indigenous Peoples in project design: Indigenous Peoples must be involved in the design of FAO projects from the outset. This includes consultation and participation in decision-making processes, as well as the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples' knowledge, practices, and perspectives in project design.
Develop culturally sensitive project implementation plans: FAO should develop project implementation plans that are culturally sensitive and responsive to the needs and aspirations of Indigenous Peoples. This involves engaging with Indigenous Peoples to identify appropriate project approaches, methodologies, and indicators of success.
Build capacity among Indigenous Peoples: FAO should invest in building the capacity of Indigenous Peoples to participate effectively in project design, implementation, and monitoring. This includes providing training and technical assistance to Indigenous Peoples, supporting the development of Indigenous-led organizations and networks, and promoting access to education and other learning opportunities.
Establish partnerships with Indigenous Peoples' organizations: FAO should establish partnerships with Indigenous-led organizations and networks to ensure that project design and implementation reflect the priorities and perspectives of Indigenous Peoples.
Monitor and evaluate project outcomes from an Indigenous perspective: FAO should monitor and evaluate project outcomes from an Indigenous perspective, using culturally appropriate indicators and methods.
There are 476 million Indigenous Peoples in the seven socio-cultural regions of the world, in 90 countries, belonging to more than 5,000 different groups.
Indigenous Peoples make up 6.2 percent of the global population with the majority living in middle-income countries, but represent more than 19 percent of the extreme poor.