In Guatemala, a very small number of giant corporations have been aggressively promoting fast-maturing hybrid seeds. Hybrid seeds are extremely vulnerable because their genetic pool is small and poor, confined to high-production genetic traits. Traditional native seeds naturally have a wide gene pool, which makes them more robust and resilient to disease and varying climactic conditions.

Native seed sources are urgently needed. There is no government effort and very little NGO-based efforts to promote native seeds in Guatemala. Because of modern agriculture practices, traditional knowledge regarding the use of native seeds for food production is in the process of disappearing.

The Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura (IMAP) (Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute) is a Mayan-run, Mayan owned non-profit organization in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala, that has spent the last 12 years empowering indigenous farmers to combat poverty and malnutrition through permaculture education and by offering training to small farmers on ways to produce and conserve traditional native seeds.

FLPCI cofounder Michael Burns studied permaculture with Ronaldo Lec Ajcot in 1998 and recalls his passion for native seeds, “Rony collected seeds everywhere he traveled. Upon returning from permaculture projects across Central America, he would describe the trips around his discoveries in indigenous seeds and agriculture. His enthusiasm for small farmers saving and using their own seeds is infectious.”

You are encouraged to visit IMAP’s Indiegogo campaign page.