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Supporting seed diversity in Mexico

Katja Döhne
December 24, 2019

Crop diversity is crucial for sustainable agriculture. In Mexico, an NGO is raising awareness of the issue by encouraging traditional farming methods and reviving neglected local recipes through a new cookbook.

Globals Ideas: Gerichte für mexikanisches Kochbuch
Image: DW/K. Döhne

Mexico: Cooking the way grandmother did

Project aim: The non-governmental organization Desarrollo Alternativo e Investigacion (DAI) is raising awareness of the value of biodiversity in agriculture. Workshops, behavorial insights and sharing of communication best practices have helped boost the organization's ability to promote local campaigns

Project implementation: In 2017 the DAI organization received the "Farming for Biodiversity" Solution Search award, run by Rare and funded by theInternational Climate Initiative (IKI). The result is, among other things, a cookbook created by local women in Chiapas, Mexico

Project duration: Finishes December 2020

Project partner:  Implementation partner Rare  andIFOAM - Organics International

Food such as maize and beans have long been mealtime staples in Mexico, integral to both local cuisine and culture.

Yet today many varieties of traditional crops around the world are replaced by those with higher, more profitable yields. Local non-governmental organization DAI is trying to raise awareness about the importance of crop diversity in agriculture and its role in food security. The project supports smallholder farmers in planting a greater array of seeds, learning new soil management techniques and returning to neglected indigenous crops. The hope is that this will increase both food security and local incomes.

As part of their mission, DAI works in the small village of Cardenas in Chiapas, one of the poorest states in the country. With support from the project, local women have created their own cookbook  which includes family recipes and promotes indigenous cultivation methods and ingredients. Not only is the project raising awareness of sustainable agriculture, it is also trying to increase the self-confidence of its participants and revive pride in local food culture and its history.

A film by Katja Döhne