Battle climate change through the preservation of local plant genetic resources by CCIR Genes to feed
A Community research center for the conservation of local crop genetic resources as a climate risk insurance at Atoyac de Álvarez, Guerrero
Guerrero is one of the states with the greatest poverty and insecurity in Mexico. Guerrero is a territory of war and producer of poppy. Guerrero is the place where 43 normalista students were disappeared by the police. After the catastrophe caused by the storms Ingrid and Manuel in 2013, the communities of the Sierra de Atoyac de Álvarez in the state of Guerrero were the most affected by landslides and river overflows, where the villages were buried under tons of mud. Immediately after international aid began to arrive, a local collective of peasant women (COMUCAM) coordinated with OXFAM and FIAN, and together they implemented an action plan against the situation. With this collaboration, the group of peasant women could be consolidated as Cooperativa Productoras de Esperanza on the great coast of Guerrero. Now we are together as a group of students, professionals, local people, and organizations that work with each other to follow up and have a greater impact on rural development results, with a scientific, educational, community, environmental and inclusive focus. We are not working from scratch, we are collaborating.
Many authors and international organizations agree on the conservation of plant genetic resources as a safety measure against the risks of climate change. But it is much more than that. Crops and ethnobotanical practices are an insurance for life in the countryside, for the peasant's capacity to sow their own culture, their heritage; an insurance against climate change, an insurance for food sovereignty, an insurance for the preservation of culture, an insurance of the right to food.
This proposal seeks to establish a community research center located in the mountain of Atoyac de Álvarez in Guerrero, where technologies focused on strengthening insurance against climate change will be developed and implemented from the recovery and conservation of plant genetic resources. This will carry to food sovereignty and to right to food as a social protection.
What actions do you propose?
Our Community Center for Rural Research (CCIR-Genes to Feed) for ethnobotanical diversity and the human right to food, will be a pioneer place specialized in the recovery and conservation of the plant genetic resources of the Atoyac de Álvarez mountain in the state of Guerrero. Much literature emphasizes the conservation of plant genetic resources as safe against the risk of climate change, the plant genetic resources of the region are composed of cultivated land plants, ethnobotanical resources, timber resources. Cooperativa Productoras de Esperanza on the great coast of Guerrero (CPECG) has been doing community development projects in the region since 2010, obtaining cooperative consolidation in 2015, and working with around 20 communities in the municipality. We have used the solid structure of CPECG and carried out a participatory rural diagnosis evaluating the possibilities of impact of a germplasm bank, since many of the members produce Creole crops, have participated in community development projects and showed great enthusiasm, we consider the mountain of Atoyac de Álvarez a favorable place for the interests of this proposal.
Due to the nature of our proposal, the actions will be divided into two temporary parts: The construction of the center, functions, and services of the center.
Construction of the center.
We consider it of vital importance to take advantage of this moment to take up the materials of the region, to venture into the bioconstruction from a design for sustainable architecture. For this, we will make a group of students and graduates of the universities of the country, mainly UNAM and UAM.
a) Location: We will carry out a participatory rural diagnosis to establish the location of the facilities, as well as the needs of the center to determine the location.
b) Design and construction: This axis will have actions plan drawings of the place, construction activities and community work. The bioconstruction is part of the life of the inhabitants, so it will take the construction of the center, an updated and innovative bioconstruction workshop, aimed at the population, paid for by community work.
c) Sustainable energy: Our center should be as independent as possible, for this, we will open a call to collaborate with universities to design a sustainable energy project that covers all the demands of the center.
Once the construction of the center is finished, we will initiate activities, which will be included in three areas: social, ecological and economic.
a) Research and workshops in rural development: Topics on the human right to food, food sovereignty, gender equity, ethnobotany and community work will be understood. CPECG has been carrying out activities of this nature since 2010, we will collaborate with them to reinforce their model of food self-sufficiency.
b) Social service: Our center will be a link for students from all over the country to accredit their practice of social service in any of our lines of research that are reflected in our functions and services: bioconstruction, plant genetic resources, sustainable energy and rural development.
c) Community work: All the activities of the center will be based on community work, the permanent jobs of the center will be divided and renewed annually with members of the mountain communities.
d) Annual Forum: Every year a cultural event will be held in order to show all our progress, where inhabitants of the mountain communities of Atoyac de Álvarez will be involved.
a) Germplasm bank: There are seeds that cannot be stored for a long time, which is an obstacle to the development and multiplication of these crops. To counteract that, we will carry out a plant tissue culture plan to maintain an in vitro collection of crops that cannot be conserved in seed form.
b) Search and renewal of collection: One of the research lines of the center will focus on the search for plant genetic material among the inhabitants and in nature; At the same time, the stored material that is about to expire will be renewed by sowing it in experimental genetic maintenance plots.
c) Organic: All agronomic management sanitation, fertilization, vegetable tissue culture, packaging; they will be of a sustainable natural approach, in addition to complying with the strictest organic certification standards of the USDA Organic.
e) Quality control. Our bank will exchange seeds with the inhabitants of the community, each seed group that enters and leaves the bank will be evaluated and categorized during the process, from sowing to harvesting, in order to devise a fair exchange and prevents contamination of the stored material.
f) Forest nursery. A reforestation plan will be initiated
a) Hybrid economy: One of the ways to access our genetic material will be a solidary economy with the exchange of material with the inhabitants of the mountain. The second will be a financial scheme whereby purchase with national currency will have access to our material.
b) Organic certification. All of our material will include an organic certification seal in accordance with USDA Organic plans. This seal will raise the value of organic production of the mountain reaching more and better markets.
c) Rural Agrotourism: The facilities of the center will be designed to carry out a didactic tour directed so that tourists, residents of other municipalities and curious; can observe and learn from each of the actions carried out by the community center.
e) Financial scheme: The sale of the seed will be part of the income of the center, given the rural nature of the community, the payment of the services can be given in kind, an equivalent fraction of the harvests. All the workshops and services of the center will be taught through scholarships to interested parties of any sector, with this the workshops will also contribute capital to the center; also agrotourism will contribute symbolically. Another income will be through the publication of research conducted at the center.
The conservation of local seeds is an important tool in the mitigation of climate change, but it is also essential to build the resilience of communities, free themselves from seed companies. A producer of criollo crops strengthens food sovereignty and the right to food of his family.
Who will take these actions?
We are an interdisciplinary group of students and graduates from different universities in Mexico (UNAM, UAM, UACH, UAG) interested in applying our knowledge to solve socio-environmental problems with a social protection approach. Our careers are varied and we collaborate, agronomists, chemists, veterinarians, architects, forest engineers, and biologists. Our job is to design the project, train the working people of the center and make sure that all the proposed actions are carried out.
The cooperative CPECG is an essential executing part, the design was based on the structure of its working form. The members of CPECG are from approximately 20 mountain communities, they are farmers with experience who already have a model of food self-sufficiency. All the actions will be carried out with them, they are the community center and the center will reinforce their rural development models.
Another executing party is the participation of various students in the country in order to link their social service with the center's objective practices.
Where will these actions be taken?
The municipality of Atoyac de Álvarez is located southwest of the capital of the state of Guerrero, in the Costa Grande region, there are approximately 84 kilometers from Acapulco to the municipal seat on the Acapulco-Zihuatanejo highway. The municipal seat is 200 meters above sea level. It borders to the north with the municipalities of San Miguel Totolapan, Ajuchitlán del Progreso, and Heliodoro Castillo; to the south with the municipality of San Jerónimo; to the east with Coyuca de Benitez and Chilpancingo and to the west with Tecpan de Galeana.
One of the main economic activities of the Sierra is the cultivation of coffee, which has been directly impacted by climate change due to the increase of favorable conditions for the development of more resistant pests, such as the case of leaf rust.
Our collaboration with CPECG gives us scope to work in 20 communities of the mountain of Atoyac de Álvares, however, the center can only be in one place, which will be chosen strategically to meet the social and ecological demands necessary for the proper functioning of our center. The land where the center will be built will be donated by the community.
What are other key benefits?
As we mentioned before, the objective is to strengthen the resilience of the mountain communities of Atoyac de Álvarez in the face of climate change. however, the selected actions have other equally important benefits:
a) Food Sovereignty: The independence of the peasant to produce his own seed gives him the freedom to plant what he wants.
b) Reforestation: Research on reforestation will bring long-term improvements, conserving timber resources.
c) Human Right to Food: Food self-sufficiency through self-cultivation is an insurance for the right to food.
d) Rural Agrotourism: An educational tour through our facilities can attract more visitors.
What are the proposal’s costs?
Building construction € 8,500
Bank and Laboratory equipment € 8,500
Greenhouse, nursery, open-air crops € 8,500
Logistics and Transportation € 8,500
Workshops and temporary employment payment € 6,000
Our design involves seed capital but seeks to be economically sustainable.
In short term our actions will focus on the collection for the creation of the germplasm bank.
In medium term, our rural research community center is consolidated as the largest publisher of scientific articles and with the largest collection of Creole germplasm in the state of Guerrero
In long term, we are a consolidated research institute and internationally respected.
This proposal mentions as one of its objectives the development of a community seed bank, a germplasm bank not only covers seeds but also stores tissues and cells.
This proposal mentions that crops must be assured in the face of climate change, we will achieve this by recovering and conserving the native crops.
Now we are collaborating and we are looking to replicate both projects, creating a link between the Costa Grande and Costa Chica of the state of Guerrero.
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