Indigenous Seed Systems and Biocultural Heritage: The Andean Potato Park's Approach to Seed Governance
In the Indigenous worldview, seeds are both biological entities and embodiments of immateriality: knowledge, culture and the sacred. Indigenous seed systems thus codify the human connection to nature. Yet such ‘informal’ systems, whether developed by Indigenous peoples or small-scale farmers, barely surface in policy debates. Krystyna Swiderska and Alejandro Argumedo seek to redress the balance in this detailed study of the principles, values and practices of Indigenous seed systems and governance. While ranging over a number of case studies from Kyrgyzstan to Kenya, their prime focus is the Andean Potato Park in Cusco, Peru—a world centre of origin and domestication of crops such as the potato, quinoa and amaranth. Swiderska and Argumedo describe the Park’s collective and customary governance structure, and the ways of learning, exchange systems, seed banks and more developed by its Quechua farmers. To safeguard the vital Indigenous contribution to seed security and diversity, they conclude, a biocultural rights-based approach to seed governance is required and needs further support from policy reform, among other measures.