Celebrating Indigenous Peoples' Day
Yesterday, we celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a day commemorating the collective strength and unique histories of indigenous communities all over the world. The term indigenous refers to the original inhabitants of the land and across the world, there are around 370 million indigenous people. Though they comprise fewer than 5% of the global population, indigenous people are powerful transmitters of culture and language, and of the 7,000 languages spoken around the globe, 4,000 of them are indigenous. Additionally, indigenous people tend to 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity and utilize generations of knowledge and skill to both use the land and protect it as well.
In honor of the indigenous communities around the world, we wanted to share some of the innovative farming techniques and land use management strategies they employ.
Andean peoples of South America
Farmers in the Andes mountain region renew their Incan legacy through the use of terracing, a method in use for over a thousand years for farming and irrigation. The terraces are essentially flat slopes of land that gradually recede and look a bit like steps. The technique is important for mountainous areas, where the soil is more shallow and higher altitudes make access more difficult. Andean societies like the Quechua of Peru and the Atacama of Northern Chile build the terraces in a way that reduces runoff, replenishes the soil and fertilizes the surrounding land.
Fulɓe Maare of West Africa
The Fula people have generations of indigenous knowledge that contribute to their upkeep and maintenance of the land they inhabit. Women in places like Ghana and Liberia have added charcoal to nutrient-poor tropical soil to turn the farmland into a continually fertile farmland. This long-standing practice has enriched the grounds of numerous farmers in the West African region, and many people have suggested that this technique could be a useful tool against climate change-related land effects.
This week, in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we encourage you to reflect on how the sustainable practices and sophisticated land management techniques of various indigenous peoples could be absolutely crucial in the fight against global food insecurity, climate change, and land degradation around the world.