Image credit: Courtesy of Agroecology Fund

Achieving Food Sovereignty for Mayan Farmers through Agroecology

Organization Desarrollo Económico y Social de los Mexicanos Indígenas
Realm Central America

The Project Marketplace is organized by the major terrestrial realms divided into 14 biogeographical regions – N. America, Subarctic America, C. America, S. America, Afrotropics, Indomalaya, Australasia, Oceania, Antarctica, and the Palearctic realm, which coincides with Eurasia and is divided into Subarctic, Western, Central, Eastern, and Southern regions.

Category Regenerative Agriculture

There are five main project categories: Energy Transition focuses on renewable energy access and energy efficiency. Nature Conservation includes wildlife habitat protection and ecosystem restoration, as well as Indigenous land rights. Regenerative Agriculture supports farmers, ranchers and community agriculture. Climate Change covers global science efforts, climate adaptation, and social justice work.

Status ongoing

Seed indicates an early stage project that needs some level of support to develop into a larger funding proposal. Ongoing indicates any project that needs core programmatic funding. Urgent indicates a short-term project initiated in response to a natural disaster or other impending risk.

Funding Level $$

$$ indicates a project with a funding need between $50,000-$250,000.

Timeframe Ongoing

There are significant threats to Mayan culture. Rampant development has disrupted Indigenous ways of life, endangering indigenous territories, threatening food sovereignty, and driving many small farm failures and outmigration from the region. 

DESMI (Desarrollo Económico y Social de los Mexicanos Indígenas) is an organization committed to the economic and social development of Indigenous Mexicans. Formed in Chiapas in 1969, it works to improve the livelihoods of rural populations and defend the rights of smallholder farmers. Its vision is to be an organization of women and men devoted to the construction of Lekil Kuxlejal-Ich’el ta muk’ (“Living well and with great respect.”) From Mayan culture, this is a concept of dignified living in harmony with each other and the environment. 

Image credit:Courtesy of the Agroecology Fund

Importantly, the communities that DESMI supports have not suffered from hunger during COVID-19 and have been able to feed themselves with healthy produce from nearby farms. This is a significant achievement for the organization, as it demonstrates the potential of agroecology to sustain entire communities in times of vulnerability.

Image credit: Courtesy of the Agroecology Fund

DESMI continues to adopt new strategies to help farming families maintain access to healthy and diverse foods, and deepen their production, commercialization and distribution practices. Communities receive peer-to-peer training in the cooperative commercialization of small enterprises such as bakeries, beekeeping, canning, etc. The COVID-19 crisis has increased interest in local medicinal plants and their uses, as they have been central to maintaining the health of rural populations. 

To strengthen community organizing, DESMI is active in more than 200 communities. At their eight centers of agroecology, local families gain knowledge of agroecological practices such as native seed saving, soil conservation, crop diversification and the use of traditional fertilizers. DESMI seeks to put into practice the ancestral and agroecological knowledge of Indigenous and peasant communities as part of their ongoing struggle to defend the essence of life in Chiapas.

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