STiR coffee and tea magazine

Volume 5, Number 3

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44 STiR tea & coffee industry international / Issue 3, 2016 (June/July) By Kelly Stein e believe that we, from the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the heart of the world, are the guardians. My dream is to tell everyone the history of my people and spread a very important message: this is the time to take care of our home, Earth", says the Arhuaco leader, Mr. Jorge Edgar Paez. Understanding that environment and human race are part of the same living system is one of the main lessons passed by generations as the ancient wisdom. According to the Arhuaco people, any activity and behavior cause what they call the "law origin", a green philosophy that rules the connection between mankind, ani- mals, water sources, nature in general and the cycles of stars and planets. This belief unites four different ethnicities - Arhuacos, Koguis, kankuamos, Wiwas – and some peasants from Sierra Nevada. Together, they are investing energy in sustainable programs and projects which promote the care and conservation of natural resources. Protecting their biome is pri- ority in agricultural activities and, at the same time, they teach to the new generations all the ancestral heritage of this ancient culture. It is important to mention that the handpicked coffee is one of the several harvest collected in this area. Jorge says that coffee empowers their community with its profitable income. "With this money we can invest in other plantations and diversify our agricultural activities", says. Polyculture is the key for Sierra Nevada farming practices. In only one piece of land you can find different types of plantation such as: Malanga (kind of edible root), ar- racacha (vegetable root that intermediates between the carrot and celery), banana tree, cabbage, coriander, tomato, cucumber, yam, madarin, orange, and potato. A group of 700 families is organized by the Association of Indigenous and Peasant Producers Agro Ecological of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and Serranía del Perijá, ASOANEI, (La Asociación de productores Agroecológicos Indígenas y campesinos de la Sierra Ne- vada de Santa Marta y Serranía del Perijá) since 1996. Distributed in six different regions, and 32 sub-regions, each family works in small properties with an average of three to five hectares in the Caribbean lands, north of Colombia. The Arhuaco people of Colombia are one of four indigenous groups of coffee producers whose sustainable practices go well beyond marketing strategies. Maintaining balance with nature is their life philosophy, their cultural identity. Nature and society as a unity are ruled by a single sacred law to preserve and protect equilibrium and harmony in themselves and the world around them. Nature and Society in Sacred Balance Tribal home popular with ethno-tourists The Arhuacos share a holistic view of forests, rivers, mountains, and the need to protect all animals Photo credit: ANEI website W

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