Doña Florinda hopes to inspire future generations and pass on ancestral knowledge to her granddaughter. She sees the protection of native seed varieties as essential to this endeavor, while also serving to guarantee a healthy diet for her family and community.
"Amombe'uta ndeve mbae ñongatupy oiva yvy ari kuñante ikatuva omoñe'e" - I'm going to tell you a secret preserved on our soil that only women can understand and put into words-, she says. "Epay che memby tahechuka ndéve” - Wake up, my darling, so can I show you , as she begins to describe how they are preserving the seeds of our land.
The conservation of native seed varieties is an ancient practice, passed-down from generation to generation. This ancestral motivation guides the women of Semillas Nativas in San Ignacio, Misiones to carefully select plants with the best seed production and plants that will ensure productivity in upcoming harvests. Throughout this process, women’s participation is essential.
What we do
Started by producers’ committees San Antonio de Costa Pucú and Virgen María de Tañarandy, Semillas Nativas is an initiative that encourages control, production, post-harvest care, storage, use, exchange, and marketing of native and creole seed varieties.
As Doña Florinda says, “If they are well cared for, native seeds can be used over and over again. They are not limited by the number of times they are used.” The brave women of Semillas defend these principles of seed preservation, organic food, and sustainable agriculture, while tirelessly working to secure a healthy and sustainable diet for their children and communities.
Among the seeds they preserve we can find the Pyta’, San Francisco, Butter, and Green beans. They also preserve onion, carrot, different types of corn, as well as kumanda, habilla and canavalia, among others.
SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
Sixteen women form the Comités de Mujeres initiative from Semillas Nativas. These women from Costa Pucu and Tañarandy seek to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture in their communities. According to the UN, “Women are in charge of preparing up to 90 percent of meals in homes around the world ; However, when times are hard, women and girls are the first to eat less. Female-headed households may not be feeding well enough simply because women's wages are lower and they are less prepared to deal with unforeseen crises.”
When asked what they see as the primary barriers and obstacles to their success, the women of Semillas Nativas mention a general lack of available labor force, an insufficient production of organic insecticide, and a lack of funds to provide sufficient financing for producers. Despite these shortcomings, they work collaboratively to support one another and overcome these barriers.
Semilla Nativas has also mentioned the importance of cross-sectoral support from the Centro de Estudios Paraguayos Antonio Guasch (CEPAG), Jesuit organizations, and committee representatives in municipal settings. This last piece is realized through the Association of Social Organizations of San Ignacio (AOSSI), which also offers training, coordination, organizational assistance, and continuous support to Semilla Nativas.
Semillas Nativas is one of the 5 winning initiatives of Moirū, and with the backing of National Innovation Strategy (ENI) and the UNDP Acceleration Laboratory, they plan to begin shortly a diverse set of technical training and certification programs in organic production techniques. In addition, they plan to build a proper storage facility for their native seeds, and to optimize the seed-labeling process in order to improve their systems of identification and commercialization.
Doña Florinda is certain that both the generations she inspires, and the families of members of Semillas Nativas, will continue to disseminate this ancestral knowledge, which offers sustainability as guiding light for a healthy, organic diet and a more sustainable world.
To find out more, watch the initiative’s video or visit their wendá platform.