Friday, June 8, 2012

Mexican farmers use traditional knowledge to deal with climate change

Emilio Godoy in IPS: Small farmers in Mexico, who receive little institutional support, are drawing on their traditional knowledge to deal with and adapt to climate change, experts say. "Campesinos (peasants) have a strong tradition of expanding their territory, which makes them quite flexible" in dealing with new conditions, Fernando Briones, a researcher at the public Centre for Research and Higher Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS), told IPS.  "But their traditional knowledge doesn’t always work. Adaptation is not a lineal process," he said.

The academic carried out the study "Saberes y prácticas climáticas de los pueblos indígenas de México: los choles" (Climate wisdom and practices of the Chole indigenous people of Mexico), focusing on an indigenous community in the city of Tila in the southern state of Chiapas, one of the country’s poorest states.

He studied the farming practices and expertise of the Chole people, one of 62 native groups who make up between 12 and 30 percent of the country’s 112 million people (the smaller, official, estimate is based on the number of people who speak an indigenous language).

Describing some of the traditional practices, Briones said Mexico’s campesinos stagger the planting of their maize, beans, coffee and other crops. Some is done before the rainy season starts in June, a much larger part is based on the traditional calendar, and the remainder is done once the dry season has started. Another practice is to plant at different altitudes...

A pasture in Chiapas, shot by AlejandroLinaresGarcia, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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