Food security for indigenous communities

11 December 2012 | News story
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The binational Sixaola river basin is located in one of the biodiversity hot spot area with the highest levels of endemism on Central America (mainly vertebrates and plants). This basin is shared between Costa Rica and Panamá.

The communities of Sixaola river basin are highly vulnerable to cli­mate change impacts, as floods and hurricanes that affect not only their livelihoods but also the ecosystems and the services they provide to local communities. Four indigenous groups live in this territory.

The Bri Bri indigenous communities rely on traditional livelihoods such as organic banana and cocoa production, as well as subsistence farming and ecotourism, being the exchange of products, seeds and labor being the most important traditional mechanism to ensure food security.

Supported by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Talamanca Caribbean Biologi­cal Corridor (CBTC), local farmers, indigenous leaders, non-governmental organizations, government repre­sentatives and local communities gathered for the country’s first agro-diversity fair in Talamanca. The main objective of the fair was to strengthen and encourage food security and initiatives that use and conserve biodiversity as a strategy to adapt to climate change. Based on the applica­tion of the CRiSTAL tool, communities identified organic agriculture,

Integrated farm systems, and the rescue of endemic and local seeds used in indigenous gastronomy and traditional medicine, as strategic ways to reduce their vulnerability to climate change.

Recovering local seeds will help the communities of the Sixaola river basin to adapt to climate change; through fostering the use of local seeds we seek to enhance food security for the indigenous groups of Talamanca, explained Marta Pérez de Madrid, IUCN’s Livelihoods and Climate Change Unit officer.


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