Mountain communities share experiences at Terra Madre


Slow Food initiatives from Austria, India, Italy, Morocco and the Philippines took the spotlight at a session moderated by the Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS) at the 2020 Terra Madre Salone del Gusto.

Titled “From the Terraces to Mountain Huts, from the Andenes of Peru to the Milpa of Mexico: Taking Care of the Highlands,” the two-part event featured morning and evening panel discussions with mountain communities from across the world, comparing their experiences of mountain agriculture, safeguarding traditions, and increasing resilience. Two members of the Mountain Partnership Products (MPP) Initiative – Anita Paul of the Pan Himalayan Grassroots Development Foundation in India and Lam-en Gonnay of the Indigenous Terra Madre Network in the Philippines – participated in the morning panel moderated by Lindsey Hook of the MPS.

The event opened with a brief video produced by Slow Food. During her intervention, Paul underlined the importance of the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR): “The IHR forms 16 percent of India’s land area and is home to 4 perfect of the Indian population. It also hosts 70 percent of the biodiversity and is one of the world’s largest providers of freshwater. For this reason, what we do in the Himalayas has impacts downstream on more than 300 million people.”

Paul discussed how high levels of outmigration by men have primarily left farming and production in the IHR to women, with whom Paul's organization has been working since 1992. "We formed women farmers into collectives to help them access markets," she said. "Our mountains do not have economies of scale, but they do have economies of quality, niche products, so through aggregation and collectivization, we strengthen our producers' hands."

Chamomile Tea, Pink Rice and Purple Rice are three products from the IHR made by groups working with the Pan Himalayan Grassroots Development Foundation that participate in the MPP Initiative.

The next speaker to follow Paul was Lam-en Gonnay. He described how the people of the Pasil River Valley, Kalinga in the Philippine Cordillera use traditional seed varieties and farming methods passed down through generations to cultivate indigenous rice in terraced landscapes. "Using high-yielding seeds would kill what we inherited from our forefathers, the variety that they kept and protected for many years," said Gonnay.

He explained how the people of the village live in harmony with their natural surroundings by abiding by certain principles: "We have beliefs that are passed on from one generation to the of how and when to harvest wild things for food. For example, you cannot just cut down trees you did not grow or maintain. They must have been grown within the communities."

The Ulikan red rice cultivated by women farmers in the Pasil River Valley is another of 20 products involved in the MPP Initiative.

The session continued with presentations on promoting tourism in Austria's mountains through Slow Food Travel and Slow Food Villages projects; the recovery of the terraced landscape around the Trappa monastery in Italy, home to the Upper Elvo Raw Milk Butter Presidium and part of the network of Slow Food Travel; and the Slow Food community for the traditional agriculture and cuisine of Serwa Mountain in Morocco.

Now in its thirteenth edition, Terra Madre is one of the world’s most important events dedicated to good, clean and fair food, and this year, Terra Madre is bigger than ever before, with digital and physical events kicking off in October 2020 and continuing for the next six months.

Terra Madre is organized by Slow Food, a member of the Mountain Partnership and a partner of the MPP Initiative. Slow Food is a global, grassroots organization working to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from and how our food choices affect the world around us. Since its beginnings, Slow Food has grown into a global movement involving millions of people in over 160 countries.

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Live drawing - Terra Madre 2020


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