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Farm Practice
Keynote
18:00 - 19:00 GMT
Monday, 11 January

Rescuing Ancient Grains in Ecuador: The Efforts to Preserve Seed Diversity and the Cultural Heritage Around Our Most Important Food Plant

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18:00 - 19:00 GMT
Monday, 11 January

Rescuing Ancient Grains in Ecuador: The Efforts to Preserve Seed Diversity and the Cultural Heritage Around Our Most Important Food Plant

Regenerative food systems expert, Javier Carrera, shares with us the strategies of a long struggle to protect ancestral maize in Ecuador, along with the cultural practices related to this special plant. He will talk about what maize is in Ecuador and why it is so important and share lessons to transform organic maize systems worldwide.

Javier has been fascinated by maize for as long as he can remember, partly because it has so many different types and uses: canguil, mote, cau, choclo, morocho, tostado, chulpi, chicha, humita, chuchuca, tortilla, champús. And so many different colours, forms, sizes, textures and flavors. He says the genetics of maize are so similar to ours in many ways and there have been so many stories, cultural practices, folk songs, rituals, recipes written about maize.

“I totally understand when people say ‘we are people of maize. Our bodies and souls are made of it.” 

But out of the 300+ maize varieties listed by national researchers in the 1960’s in Ecuador, Javier’s network of seed guardians, Social en la Red de Guardianes de Semillas, has only been able to find only around 50. The rest of them are gone. Probably forever. Who were they? What were their names, stories, flavors, colours? 

Javier and his colleagues are now working hard to preserve the seeds Ecuador has left. For this, they have been working with chefs to develop new recipes, research ancestral uses and rediscover different ways to plant, etc. In this session, Javier will share with ORFC delegates  the results of this work and insights on how to promote a culture of maize with strong roots.

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