Seed Sovereignty in Aotearoa New Zealand and Peru

By: Mariaelena Huambachano  

Food in the form of seeds for Indigenous peoples plays a significant role not only in providing food but also in sustaining cultural knowledge and protection of a country’s agro-biodiversity. Drawing on forty in-depth interviews, talking circles and oral stories with Māori people of Aotearoa and Quechua peoples of Peru. This study reveals that Quechua and Māori peoples’ seeds and agriculture biodiversity are endangered by biopiracy and GMOs that inhibits the continuum of their right to healthy and culturally appropriate food. This study argues that the sanctity of seeds for Quechua and Māori relates to their Indigenous self-determination to restore their cultural origins and relationships with all beings, and to ensure that food security remains under the control of their communities. Research findings make a case for seed sovereignty acting as a contributor to a group’s collective well-being/Buen Vivir and self-determination to preserve cultural heritage and knowledge. This study concludes that seed sovereignty goes beyond the rights-based approach to food; rather, it is a tool for revitalizing Indigenous peoples’ food systems, for advocacy and policy change in food systems, and for moving beyond colonial approaches to food and culture.

Indigenous, Seeds, Sovereignty
Food, Politics, and Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. Mariaelena Huambachano

Assistant Professor, Indigenous Studies and Sustainability, University of California, Northridge, United States
-, United States