2013

Agricultural Innovation Through Heritage Seeds and Practices

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ASER MAIZ_Jan 2013 (197)Project Description
Since 2010, Coffee Kids has worked with the Advice and Rural Services Center (ASER MAIZ), based out of Veracruz, Mexico, to improve the food security of local coffee-farming communities.

They promote community development by improving the economic, social, and political conditions within rural communities in Veracruz, Mexico. Founded in 1996, the organization was born out of the economic and social crises that affected many rural areas in Mexico after the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). ASER MAIZ addresses poverty by training rural families in sustainable agriculture, food security, and organizational development.

Mexico’s entry into NAFTA in 1994 forced transformations in rural regions, pushing them toward intensive agricultural production for an export market rather than local consumption. This has contributed to food poverty in Mexico, particularly in Veracruz where staple foods such as corn and beans have suffered low yields in recent years due to crop diseases brought about by climate change.

The communities where ASER MAIZ works are some of the worst affected in the state. These same events threaten the traditional milpa mode of production, the subsistence agricultural system upon which rural populations throughout Mexico have subsisted for hundreds of years. At the heart of the milpa triad is maize (intercropped with squash and beans). However, regionally adapted heritage varieties of maize are dying out due to GM drift, crop failure, and the influx of cheap but less nutritious varieties that are sold for seed.

This project continues the efforts of ASER MAIZ to build rural food security and joins the campaign Sin Maíz no Hay País (Without corn there is no country) in promoting the recovery and protection of native seeds, while also supporting organic production techniques and encouraging more efficient use of land and water. This project will also compile and document traditional forms of milpa production and will attain a collection of seeds better adapted to the region.

ASER MAIZ_Jan 2013 (127)Who Benefits from this project?
This project started with a group of 100 families from seven communities in the Totonacapan region of Veracruz, Mexico, to exchange knowledge and seeds through backyard vegetable gardens.

Although many community members still grow their own food, many others have begun to purchase their food without knowing where it comes from or how it was produced. This is due in part to emigration to the US and in part to diminishing land space for gardens. Despite these changes, somewhere around 85 percent of the families in these seven communities continue to rely on agricultural activities for their livelihoods.

People such as Esther Gómez Isidro from the community of Coyutla have seen their consumption of staples diminish. Esther remembers the vegetable garden her family kept when she was a child. It provided her with fresh salads and tender greens year round. Time went by and her father left for the United States. The family garden disappeared and she stopped eating fresh vegetables every day.

Through this project, Esther recently transformed a small piece of land that she used for storing things into her own vegetable garden. She plans to grow most of the vegetables she consumes and exchange the seeds with local women.

How Can I Help?
Coffee Kids depends on donations to support our projects; to provide monitoring, evaluation, and training services to our program partners; and to help educate the general public about relevant issues at coffee’s origin.

There are many ways to get involved. Individuals can give a one-time donation or set up a monthly recurring donation. They may also gift a donation. See which option is best for you: www.coffeekids.org/you-can-help/donate/

Businesses may become members for $500 per year or offer a one-time donation at the level at which they’re able to give. Become a Coffee Kids member here: www.coffeekids.org/you-can-help/business-donation

You may also participate by holding your own fundraiser. We can help you create and promote your fundraiser if you email info@coffeekids.org.

Social media, blog posts, and articles are all great ways to help others learn about Coffee Kids, coffee farmers, and what we can all do to help protect the future of coffee.

Contact Name:     Kristina Morris Heredia
Web Site:     www.coffeekids.org
Location:     Santa Fe, New Mexico USA
Email Address:     info@coffeekids.org
Phone Number:     505.820.1443

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