What would it take this decade for 50% of the world’s food to be produced in a way that supports healthy people, nature, and the climate? This is the question asked by Regen10, a new multi-stakeholder, collaborative platform focused on the potential of regenerative approaches to strengthen the resilience of food systems, protect nature, and respond to climate change.
From 19-23rd June 2023, members of The Indigenous Partnership (TIP) met with members of Regen10 to explore how TIP and Regen10 could work together to achieve their shared vision of thriving food systems. The central objectives of the workshop were to identify synergies and points of difference between regenerative approaches and the age-old practices of Indigenous Peoples food systems, articulate ways for two-way exchanges of knowledge, and avenues for mutually beneficial collaboration. The multi-day workshop was generously hosted by TIP’s partners at the Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo, Mexico and Glocal Bej.
This hugely insightful meeting saw agreement on both sides that there are fruitful bridges to be built between regenerative approaches and IPFS: IPFS have strengths to offer to regenerative approaches, and regenerative approaches can enhance IPFS. Such intercultural collaboration can help to achieve food futures that benefit people and planet.
Delegates visited a nearby Yucatec Maya milpa system.
On Day 1, Dr Jonathan Lundgren presented on his work with the Ecdysis Foundation and the 1000 Farms initiative, which seeks to demonstrate the power of regenerative agriculture on a network of farms across north America through intensive, farmer-centred data collection, and to develop implementation roadmaps to transition to more regenerative systems. The results of TIP’s ongoing research work in Yucatec Maya communities based on the FAO Tool for Agroecology Performance Evaluation (TAPE) were also presented. Preliminary results demonstrated the strengths of the Yucatec food systems from an agroecological perspective, as well as areas that are challenged and/or are not well captured via TAPE’s methods of assessment.
During the second day, delegates visited farmers in X’pichil, a local farming community, to gain a deeper understanding of the important components of the diverse Yucatec Mayan Food Systems, and in particular the milpa system. For many participants, this was their first exposure to the milpa system, and our regenerative partners were able to offer their reflections on where regenerative practices are reflected in IPFS, where they might be enhanced. It was clear that whilst the milpa Maya system retained many strong elements of “traditional” milpa systems, the system also faced challenges. For example, state policies encouraging the use of fertiliser have led to uptake by many farmers, and increasingly uncertain rainfall patterns under climate change pose a challenge to the rain-fed system. The two farmers explained the practices they were using to adapt to and overcome these challenges, such as experimentation with new methods of intercropping and crop combination.
Building on the field visit, the latter few days of the workshop saw intense discussion on the strengths and challenges facing the Yucatec Maya milpa-centred systems, with a view to identifying areas where IPFS and regenerative approaches might offer the other approach solutions. The challenges and sensitivities of intercultural knowledge exchange and co-creation were also discussed.
Delegates met Miguel Ku Balam, an Indigenous farmer whose innovations in Ich kool, milpa maya, farming have earned him global recognition from FAO as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS). Later that evening, a ceremony in Jose Maria Morelos saw Miguel receive an award on behalf of milperos and milperas in Yucatan, from the municipality of Jose Ma. Morelos and the government of the state of Quintana Roo, followed by a spectacular showcase of Yucatec Maya music, dance, and artisanal work.
Building on the previous day’s discussions, the final day was led by partners and Regen10 and sought to identify common ground between TIP and Regen10’s approach - as well as points of difference and tension. Delegates identified actions that could be taken to advance collaboration between TIP and Regen10, and collectively mobilise to meet shared objectives of nature-positive food production. Overall this was a fantastic week of fruitful discussions between TIP and REGEN10 and we look forward to seeing where this collaboration leads.
Delegates from Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo, Mexico, including students and professors of the University, representatives from Regen10, the Rockefeller Foundation and The Indigenous Partnership (TIP).