Indigenous Peoples’ food systems and COVID-19


Indigenous Peoples shared their knowledge of resilient food systems in two events live-streamed direct from communities in Perú, Kenya, India and China in September 2021 ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit

Last updated 15 September 2021
Man wearing traditional clothing holds a plate with potatoes.

Farmer holds a plate of potatoes, the most precious crop in Parque de la Papa (Potato Park) in Cusco, Perú (Photo: copyright Asociación ANDES)

In the run up to the UN Food Systems Summit in September 2021, the International Network of Mountain Indigenous Peoples (INMIP) organised a webinar series to bring the voices and knowledge of Indigenous farmers around the world into the debate on resilient food systems.

Over two separate events live-streamed from Indigenous communities in mountainous and semi-arid regions of Perú, Kenya, India and China, Indigenous farmers, elders, women and youth shared their experiences and policy recommendations directly from their landscapes.

Also supporting INMIP and these webinars were the Agroecology Fund and Tamalpais Trust.

Resilient biocultural territories in the face of crisis: Parque de la Papa, Perú and Rabai Community, Kenya

The Parque de la Papa (Potato Park) of Perú and the Rabai community of Kenya are both model biocultural heritage territories, which protect and celebrate the long agricultural traditions and innovations of the Indigenous Peoples who call these lands home.

This first webinar featured their experiences using traditional biocultural knowledge to protect the food sovereignty of their peoples, contributing to resilience in the face of crisis.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, both territories experienced tremendous challenges, but thanks to their abundant local food systems and rich agrobiodiversity, the food and nutrition security of their peoples was not disrupted, and they reported few virus cases and no virus-related deaths.

Indigenous farmers shared their experiences of resilience and recovery, and what biocultural heritage territories and Indigenous food systems can teach the world about responding to crises.

Native crops and seed systems: the Farmer Seed Network, China and Lepcha and Limbu communities, Eastern Himalayas (India)

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically reorganised life around the world, setting off a global pattern of reverse urban migration during which people fled cities and returned to their rural homelands.

INMIP partners and communities in southwest China and northeast India addressed the challenges and opportunities of reverse urbanisation, particularly focusing on the economic potentials of native crops for Indigenous farmers, the importance of seed sharing practices for assuring food security, and the resilience of smallholder farming compared to globalised farms.

Indigenous farmers in their fields shared their experiences using native crops and seeds to create resilience in the face of crisis, and how smallholder farming may hold the key to transforming our global food system.


Both webinars were led by Indigenous farmers from the communities in Perú, Kenya, India and China. The events lasted two hours, and were chaired by INMIP's international coordinator, Alejandro Argumedo.

  • Alejandro Argumedo (moderator) is director of Asociación ANDES, an Indigenous Peoples' non-governmental organisation working to protect and develop Andean biological and cultural diversity and the rights of Indigenous Peoples of Perú
  • Local agriculture expert and project promoters in the Parque de la Papa: Mariano Sutta Apocusi, Ricardina Pacco Ccapa, Aniceto Ccoyo Ccoyo, Nazario Quispe Amao and Lino Mamani
  • Jessica Villacorta is principal agronomist and project coordinator for Asociacion ANDES
  • Chemuku Wekesa is a senior research scientist at Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) and coordinator for INMIP, Kenya  
  • Carolyne Manya is a technologist with KEFRI, dedicated to working with the Mijikenda community to conserve agrobiodiversity within Rabai Cultural Landscape
  • Lennox Ringa Mwabaya is a community researcher who is also the assistant project coordinator for Rabai Cultural Village
  • Daniel Mwawara Garero is chair of Kaya elders in Kilifi County. He is a traditional herbalist and a champion of conservation of Indigenous foods and herbal plants
  • Luvuno Joha Mkuzi is secretary of Rabai Cultural Village, a traditional dancer and an expert in preparation of traditional food recipes like Bumbunda, Chishombo and Jora
  • Salma Chirindo Chiringa is an advocate of conservation of Indigenous knowledge who is also a community researcher.

Event coverage

Watch a recording of the first event live-streamed from Parque de la Papa, Perú and Rabai Community, Kenya focusing on resilient biocultural territories in the face of crisis. The video is also available on IIED's YouTube channel.

A recording of the second event live-streamed from the Farmer Seed Network, China and the Lepcha and Limbu communities, Eastern Himalayas in India, is also available below or IIED's YouTube channel.

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