Local food systems and agro-biodiversity conservation in the Purhépecha Region, Mexico

Event Start Date: January 24, 2017 12:45 PM
Event End Date: January 24, 2017 1:45 PM 12:45 PM

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Local food systems and agro-biodiversity conservation in the Purhépecha Region, Mexico
By Dr. Marta Astier | Centro de Investigaciones en Geografía Ambiental, UNAM
Grinter 376


Dr. Astier is currently a Full-time Professor at the UNAM Center for Research in Environmental Geography in Morelia. She has a MSc degree in Soil Sciences from the University of California, Berkeley in 1992 and a doctorate in Ecology from UNAM, Mexico City in 2002 working with agricultural soil improvement. She did postdoctoral stays at ECOSUR and at FAO. Her work includes papers and books on sustainable development and climate change mitigation in indigenous and small-farmer agro-ecosystems, this includes works on energy balance, soil management, participatory mapping, the conservation of native maize varieties and sustainability evaluation frameworks. Her work has been supported be the United Nations University Project on People, Land Management and Environmental Change, the Mexican Fund for Nature Conservation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Mexican Science and Technology Council and the Mexican Secretariat for the Environment and Natural Resources. She received the Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy in 2006 for her work in conservation of native maize.

Seminar Abstract:

The diversity of Maize, like other crops, is the result of a wise and longstanding adaptation of genetic resources to heterogeneous agro-climatic conditions, a diverse array of multi-purpose production farming strategies, and socio-cultural practices of rural and urban populations. In Mexico, the center of origin and diversification of maize, the conservation of native landraces depends more on the permanent cultivation and live culinary traditions of smallholder communities across the country than to the preservation of germplasm in off-site seed banks.  In this talk, we will consider the socio-environmental context in which maize diversity occurs, as well as one of the most important cultural uses of this crop, the tortilla, in an indigenous territory in Central Mexico.

We show how the "tortilleras" (women dedicated to artisanal tortilla production) play a fundamental role in the conservation of maize diversity and the sustenance of Campesino families and identify the current challenges local economies face today. To conclude, we present “Red Tsiri,” an alternative and sustainable local food system with the goal to link local organic farmers, tortilleras coops, and conscious consumers in rural and urban settings.