Zapotec farmers preserve, protect, and strengthen the small zapalote maize in Oaxaca


They will not allow the entry of hybrid seeds or of projects that affect the environment.

Juchitán, Oaxaca.- Zapotec peasants and farmers from Juchitán de Zaragoza and Santa María Xadani on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec organized in the Union of Craftsmen and Peasants “Tona Taati”, for five years they have conserved, protected and strengthened the small zapalote maize to avoid the entry of hybrid corn.

The small squash corn is one of the 59 native races that exist in Mexico and that was adapted in this area of ​​Oaxaca, it also has the advantage that it is a short-cycle crop, that is, after two months it reaches its physiological maturity at the 60 days, ready for corn; after 90 to 100 days, it reaches commercial maturity and is immediately harvested to be used in the preparation of a variety of traditional foods.

In the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, this native has a very important nutritional value, with the grains a variety of traditional foods are prepared such as tamales, atole, pozol, guetabingui, moles and the unique tortilla chips, a staple food that indigenous women make by hand. and it is severely dehydrated in comixcal ovens at high temperatures, is the main economic support for peasant families.

For its preservation and strengthening, they were organized, coordinated by Tomás Chiñas Santiago, under the advice of José Manuel Cabrera Toledo, researcher at the TNM of Comitancillo, they promote the improvement of the small squash corn through the mass selection method, substantially increasing the yield per unit. of surface area, going from 1.5 tonnes per hectare to three tonnes, in addition to improving quality and increasing its nutritional value.

Rosario del Carmen Carrasco is a young peasant woman and an engineer by profession who, together with her father, are part of this group that has been cultivating more than 20 hectares of improved small squash corn.

Rosario inherited a love of the countryside from her father, and despite the fact that she finished a career, she has dedicated her entire life to cultivating it, however, she recognizes that with this organic planting project, the corn that is obtained is better tasting and quality, because agrochemicals are not used and the best have an improvement technique.

The producers of this group divide their seeds, 50 percent allocate it to a seed bank that they reproduce in each agricultural cycle, while another 50 percent use it for sale and consumption, obtaining foods such as moles, tortillas, tamales and atole.

“What we do is preserve our corn, but we want it to be stronger, that its yield value benefits the food and the field, that is a form of defense that we use to prevent the entry of hybrid corn, which we know is planted clandestinely in the area and that we have denounced on several occasions to the Sader ( Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) ”.

Produce in large volumes only if there is adequate infrastructure and the environment is respected

Within the framework of the Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (CIIT), a pilot proposal is being worked on for this group of peasants to increase their production to 1,500 hectares that will benefit 500 Zapotec peasants from Juchitán and Xadani in order to strengthen corn cultivation. Small zapalote and protect it, avoiding the presence of other varieties of commercial corn.

The coordinator of the Tona Taati peasant organization, Tomas Chiñas Santiago, explained that the goal is to plant more than 3,500 hectares with this project, and clarifies that they participate in this project promoted within the framework of CIIT, by Salvador Ibarra Vega, not as a “bargaining chip”, but because they are allowing them to propose its lines of action, otherwise it would be rejected.

On the other hand, Sader and CIMMYT ( International Corn and Wheat Improvement Center) are promoting another project, also within the framework of CIIT, to incorporate corn from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec into the globalized market. They have been insisted that they will not allow the introduction of other varieties of corn in this area because they would come to contaminate the genetics of our native corn, said Chiñas Santiago.

Tomas Chiñas stressed that it is important and urgent that the productive infrastructure be improved, mainly in the preparation of tortilla chips, that is, an improvement in traditional kitchens and ovens, which is managed based on current sanitary regulations and that will help tortilla chips can obtain greater added value and can be exported and sold all over the world because it is a product that is preserved without additives for more than six months and has a flavor and texture widely accepted by the gastronomic market as a gourmet product.

“We are not improvised, we have experience and we know the field, our strength is to preserve and conserve our corn and of course defend it and contribute so that the field continues to live, producing healthy and improved food, that is why for five years we have been producing our own seed, a corn with high nutritional value and we will continue to do so, because without corn there is no country ”.


The Oaxaca Post