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New film shows Chinese mountain communities protecting biocultural heritage

Posted on: 18 Apr 2017 / Submitted by: Silvia

A new film tells stories from inhabitants of the Stone Village in China, home to 220 Naxi ethnic families and a living example of the value of conserving biocultural heritage. 

A 12-minute film explores how farmers work collectively to sustain efficient water management systems, save seed varieties, including those connected to ancient cultural practices, and respond to changes in climate and market demand.

The customary water management system used in the Stone Village, located in the upper reaches of the Yangzi River in Yunnan Province, Southwest China, has lessened the impact of recurring drought compared to neighbouring villages. It also prevents conflict by ensuring water is distributed fairly amont the 12 sub-villages spread across the Stone Village mountain valley.

The film, which features both English and Chinese subtitles, was made alongside three linked South-South exchange events organised in the Stone Village in May 2016 by the Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Asociación ANDES (Peru) and IIED. These were:

  1. A learning exchange with Quechua farmers from the Potato Park, Peru, to help establish a Naxi Biocultural Heritage Territory in the Stone Village based on the successful Potato Park model
  2. The third learning exchange of the International Network of Mountain Indigenous People, where Naxi and Quechua farmers were joined by other communities from China, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and
  3. A policy dialogue involving these communities, policymakers from Peru and China, UN agencies and scientists. 

The film shows villagers hearing how Quechua people are developing new models for conserving agrobiodiversity, and exchanging seeds to test in new environments. Xiuyun Zhang, from Stone Village, is involved in a participatory plant breeding project, and exchanges her improved maize seeds developed from the Guinuo 2006 parental line with farmers from Nepal.

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Annette McGill 
Cross Cutting:
Indigenous knowledge
South-South cooperation