Cléofécélia, International Award Terre de Femmes 2021 laureate of the Yves Rocher Foundation, lists, preserves and disseminates knowledge about seeds and local seeds to save a whole section of the plant and cultural heritage of the Andes.
Cléofécélia is a Peruvian peasant who has built an extraordinary journey. In love with her land and its culture, the winner of the International Terre de Femmes Award from the Yves Rocher Foundation has embarked on a titanic work to identify, preserve and disseminate knowledge about seeds and local seeds and thus , save a whole section of the plant and cultural heritage of the Andes.
Cleofecelia is a woman, both simple and multiple. Born into a poor peasant family in the village of Chinchero, on the roads leading to Machu Picchu, in Peru, she is, today at 61 years old, leader of her community, peasant, defender of craftsmanship and know-how locals, This award recognizes its action in collecting, preserving and sharing the seeds of the Andes.
Sow seeds together for tomorrow
The subject of seeds and seeds is crucial, Cléofécélia, ardent defender of the indigenous heritage knows it well. The Andes have always been a cradle of subsistence farming. The exploitation of these small plots clinging to the mountainside is a real feat requiring perfect knowledge and mastery of this difficult environment in order to develop crops capable of adapting to the climate and the soils. The introduction of new seeds during the Spanish conquest, and then the modernization of agriculture, contributed to the decline of Andean crops, mainly consisting of cereals and tubers, whose nutritional qualities are undeniable.
Defend Nurturing Seeds
These changes have a dramatic economic and social impact on producers and local communities, but also on the health of the population who turn to the products offered by the agri-food industry. Local flour, for example, is disappearing in the face of competition from that produced industrially in Lima or Arequipa, with imported wheat.
Preserving local biodiversity
Awareness of the urgency to act was triggered in 2011 by the project to build an international airport in the heart of the village of Chinchero. The program expropriates Cléofécélia and threatens the territory of three indigenous communities, numerous archaeological sites as well as the local ecological balance. With her strong character, her unfailing determination and her enthusiasm over the shoulder, Cléofécélia has decided to act for the preservation of the seeds that are the custodians of the nourishing heritage and biodiversity. She succeeds in mobilizing communities to disseminate and share ancestral know-how in seeds and agricultural technologies. This woman, who dropped out of school at the age of 14, has carefully cataloged indigenous seeds such as those of Maca, pikoll, amaranth or nearly 1,334 varieties of potatoes. She then recorded the characteristics and properties of each of these seeds. Attached to the need to transmit, Cléofécélia wants to go further by creating a place to meet and share around these seeds and the art of taking care of the biodiversity of the Andes.
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