On the 6th of August, more than 2,000 peasants gathered at Nabón, Ecuador to firmly say no to transgenic crops and seeds. It was the occasion of the 15th Seeds and Ancestral Knowledge Exchange organized by the “Autonomous Government of the Decentralized Municipality of Nabon”. “To sow and exchange our seeds is how we’ll defend life”, they declared. Members of communities and organizations representing the provinces of Azuay, Loja and Cañar, as well as Esmeraldas and Pichincha, proudly exhibited the agro biodiversity of the seeds that they maintain on their farms.
Given the ever-encroaching threat of genetically modified agriculture, it’s important to keep the traditional knowledge of seeds and farming practices alive. As Nancy Minga, of the School of Agricultural Engineering of the University of Cuenca said, “it is necessary to have an organization that helps us defend our rights so that we can resist the experimental fields of transgenics, state control in marketing and other nightmares for clean, family, peasant agriculture.”
The deliberations at the exchange were intensely cognizant of the most pertinent question, “What can we do to keep our seeds healthy?” And the answer was succinct and direct – to continue planting, organizing, declaring GM-free territories and maintaining political formation. The more than 2,500 attendees also learned about the daily struggles in the lives of agro ecological producers, so that the participants could harness encouragement from each other’s experiences and challenges.
The variety in colors, shapes, flavors, stories and recipes was an attractive part of the meeting of the ancestral heritage of the Nabon region. In addition to the barter and exhibition of seeds, the best stands were awarded for the variety of products, the most decorated dish and the gastronomic exhibition. And, finally, it was time for partaking of the wonderful food prepared by the participants, and a great pambamesa (Kichwa word for “food for all”) was laid out, a feast of mote, corn, beans, guinea pig meat and chicken on a tablecloth made of colorful ponchos and shawls. The Nabon Seed Exchange was a roaring success and a great step in the direction of firmly seizing the ancient future of Ecuador.