FAO Report: Indigenous Peoples’ food systems

As per U.N. Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO)’s report, traditional food gathering techniques of indigenous communities are under threat because of accelerated climate change and economic pressures right from Arctic to the Amazon.

Key Findings of report

  • As per FAO, food systems used by different indigenous peoples were among world’s most sustainable in terms of efficiency. It was avoiding waste and adapting to the seasons.
  • Report warns against increasing threats to such sophisticated food systems.
  • Food systems are at high risk due to climate change, major infrastructure projects and granting of concessions which allow mining, commercial agriculture & companies to operate in territories of indigenous people.

Indigenous people

There are around 500 million people across 90 countries who are self-identify as indigenous people. Food systems of eight indigenous people are examined in depth and it comes among most sustainable system in world with respect to efficiency, no waste, seasonality and reciprocity. These indigenous people generate hundreds of food items from environment without depleting natural resources and achieve high levels of self-sufficiency. For instance, in Solomon Islands, Melanesians people combine agroforestry, wild food gathering and fishing and generate 70 per cent of their dietary needs.

Way forward

Report emphasises on the urgent need for governments and international community to establish and enforce intercultural policies which support the efforts of indigenous people in protecting their food systems.

Distribution of Indigenous people

Food system of Indigenous people was analysed on-

  1. Baka people in Cameroon
  2. Inari Sami people in Finland
  3. Khasi, Bhotia and Anwal peoples in India
  4. Melanesians people in Solomon Islands,
  5. Kel Tamasheq people in Mali,
  6. Tikuna, Cocama and Yagua peoples in Colombia, and
  7. Maya Ch’orti’ in Guatemala.

How their food system is different?

Food system of indigenous people comprises of different food generation techniques such as hunting, gathering, fishing, pastoralism and shifting cultivation. Mobile practices & nomadism are important to link food generation and production activities to natural cycles.


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