Parque de la Papa farmers began to stir in their seats, waiting for an opportunity to share their stories. Others came from as far as Bhutan and China. They discovered that their cultures were more similar than they had expected, and that one concern had been troubling all of them: Climate change was making it harder to grow food on the mountains that had sustained them for centuries. They were meeting to do something about it.
During a series of talks held between April 26 and May 2, 2014, the farmers forged a unique partnership that now includes the exchange of indigenous crop varieties and farming methods. They hope these initiatives will help protect agricultural biodiversity in the face of climate change. The exchange will begin with potatoes—a sturdy crop that thrives in the mountains of China, Bhutan, and Peru. Such collaboration will give the farmers an opportunity to experiment together from a distance, as they search for the hardiest, most resilient varieties.
Andean farmer Lino Mamani curates the traditional seeds collection at Parque de la Papa, where six Quechua communities live and grow about 600 varieties of potato. “We can learn more from others with similar problems about technology that might be useful.”
Working with scientists has been an emotional, challenging process, Mamani said. “Scientists would just take seeds from us, not recognizing our knowledge.” But the tides are turning as climate change edges on, pushing science and tradition closer together to resolve common goals and slow the process of agricultural degradation. He went on to say “It’s time traditional knowledge and science work together.”
Consider the First Source!
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word choreographed an assembly of amino acids into an exquisite array of specific proteins. Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.” In so doing God demonstrated a penchant for genomic writing, preceeded by an amazing series of prebiotic events, in a highly orchestrated presentation of evolutionary overcontrol.