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A project seeks to revitalize indigenous food production in Panama

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A project seeks to revitalize indigenous food production in Panama

Wed, 07/18/2018 - 14:20

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Yucca, yams, plantains and rice, a fundamental part of the diet of the indigenous peoples of Panama, are the focus of a project promoted by the Government and FAO to revitalize traditional production systems and contribute to the food security of a population with near poverty rates to 97 percent.

The project involves ten indigenous communities of the Naso, Bribri, Guna, Emberá and Wounaan peoples, where 560 families have installed in the last two months 72 hectares of crops that also include items such as ñampí, otoe, corn and coffee, the UN Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO) reported today.

The project is developed through a participatory model and works to strengthen the capacities of families, indigenous organizations and institutions that provide support services for development in indigenous territories, taking into account the potential of these foods for its commercialization and the generation of income for families.

"The communities have placed greater emphasis on areas of mass consumption nationwide and which are connected to local markets, such as bananas, yams and coffee, including those considered important for their food sovereignty, such as the yam, the ñampí or the corn," said the Plant Production and Protection Officer of the FAO, Jorge Samaniego.

The world body explained that during the installation of the plots, producers have participated in field schools, where they have strengthened their technical capacities for crop management and planting distances and in options for the conservation and sustainable management of water and soils, and agroforestry and agroecological production have also been promoted.

"We are learning new management techniques to improve crops, but also complementing them with our traditions," said Virginia Castillo, a producer in the Naso community of Solong, who has planted corn and ñampí on her plots.

Castillo stressed "this is the first time that a technical support initiative has taken the community into account, and the experience is very positive, because we live in the countryside and we are here to produce."

Another producer, Erick Díaz, said the initiative also contributes to recovering seeds that are part of our food tradition", such as those of yellow plantain or silver rice, a variety that is very appreciated in the community for its quality and its conservation capacity.

FAO said this initiative "will reduce poverty and food insecurity in the districts and townships of indigenous peoples, where poverty affects 96.7 percent of the people and chronic malnutrition to 72 percent of children under five years of age, according to the latest Life Level Survey".

The project is promoted by the Ministry of Government with the technical assistance of FAO and the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MIDA).

FAO indicated that within the framework of the project in the coming months, activities linked to sustainable production and the improvement of food and nutrition security will be developed.

It will also begin the approach of indigenous producers with markets, to develop better commercial relations and income that allow other needs to be met.

In Panama there are about 400,000 indigenous people who represent around 11% of the total population and are grouped into 7 main ethnic groups.

 

http://www.panamatoday.com/panama/project-seeks-revitalize-indigenous-food-production-panama-7349

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