Indigenous Peoples Paving the Way: High-Level Expert Seminar at FAO

Indigenous Terra Madre Network Representatives from Kyrgyzstan and Russia participated at the High-Level Expert Seminar on Indigenous Food Systems, held November 7-9, 2018, at FAO headquarters in Rome.

The workshop presented the work and research of indigenous food systems from different parts of the world, possible projects and policies to preserve the diet and maintain the health standard of indigenous peoples, as well as recommendations for use and commercialization of products originating from local food systems as a way of informing the global debate on sustainability and climate resilience for the 2030 Agenda and the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition.

Yulia Fominykh, an indigenous chef working at the Moscow restaurant Tipografia, member of the Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance in Russia and leader of her local Slow Food community, presented the key indigenous products of the Altai Republic and emphasised the role a cook and the community around the restaurant can play in safeguarding the variety of traditional foods against industrially produced and instant products. “Despite the continuous loss of many traditional foods and authentic national dishes, we still have a chance to restore and strengthen local food systems with time-tested knowledge and techniques, to conserve biodiversity today and in the future. We believe that one of the first steps in the safeguarding biodiversity is building knowledge and awareness. At the restaurant we are researching data on traditional foods to allow our guests to rediscover the food biodiversity of Altai.”

Gulzada Sabyr Kyzy, representative of the Convivium Ala-Too and expert in food security projects within the Agency for Development Initiatives in Kyrgyzstan, shared the experience of the modern transformation in nomadic indigenous food culture in the mountainous Naryn province. She emphasised the value of traditional products and diets in maintaining the health and traditional lifestyle of indigenous peoples.

Anna Kanshieva, Regional co-ordinator for Slow Food, demonstrated Slow Food’s record promoting mountain food products in Bolivia with reference to the Mountain Partnership Products’ Initiative. The project targets 158 women producers of Stingless bee’s honey and their families, most of who belong to the Guaranì people living in the Serranía del Iñao National Park, located in Bolivia’s sub-Andean ecoregion at the foot of the Eastern Cordillera. The project utilises narrative label – a counter-label providing precise information on the producers, their organizations, the plant varieties, cultivation and processing techniques, and areas of origin – as an instrument for strengthening the value chain.