If you live or work in Latin America, or Central America, and are into permaculture, chances are you will be referred to the IMAP, which is located in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala. The IMAP, which stands for Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura (Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute) describes itself as “promoting permaculture, sustainable agriculture, and food sovereignty in Guatemala,” but their reach and influence stretches out over all of Central and Latin America. They also emphasise the importance of recovering, guarding, and teaching Mayan ancestral knowledge.
They are very active, and you can find a complete list of the work they do on their website. The IMAP was founded in 2000 by a group of locals, beginning as an Education and Reference Center which was in charge of “promoting permaculture techniques, ecological construction, organic seed and vegetable production, the fair trade and exchange of seeds and a seed bank.”
Seed keeping is one of the main topics in Latin American permaculture, as it is of vital importance to ensure that our millenary seed saving traditions are perpetuated, which is increasingly difficult in an industrial agriculture world largely dominated by GMO seed.
Guatemala and the IMAP have been doing amazing work in that field, both through direct action and by providing resources that can be used in radically local collectives as well as in the larger world movement for seed freedom. It’s a movement heavily influenced and inspired by an emphasis on the sacredness of the seed, believing that seeds should “not be thrown out, stomped on, wasted; or a single grain be burned.”
Within Guatemala, for example, the IMAP continuously hosts workshops on seed keeping and seed bank design and implementation.
Seed keeping initiatives, most often grassroots, are happening over the world. An article by Jonathan Leaning helps us understand the scope of the movement:
… organizations such as the Movement of Small Farmers (MPA) in Brazil, the Union of Autonomous Regional Peasant Organizations (UNORCA) in Mexico, the Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP) and many others around the globe are developing seed banks and promoting the saving of native seed varieties. This year (2013), the National Farmers Union of Mozambique (UNAC) organized a conference on land and seeds in that nation, and last November half way across in Surin, Thailand, Via Campesina groups from around the world met for the First Global Encounter on Agroecology and Seeds.
As IMAP coordinator Rony Lec shares on the video, “Today, farmers around the world are losing their heritage; heirloom seeds and biodiversity are keys for the survival not only for the rural communities but for the entire human race.
You can find the IMAP on Facebook at IMAPermacultura.