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The agricultural systems of the Rio Negro: a living heritage

Winner of the second call for projects in ‘Biodiversity and local knowledge.’

Granted Intangible Heritage status in Brazil, the Rio Negro agricultural system is seeking ways to engage with the modern world. A unique partnership with Amerindian communities promotes a distinctive approach based on the symbiosis of nature and human society.

Fondation d'Entreprise Hermès - The agricultural systems of the Rio Negro: a living heritage
© L. Emperaire-IRD/Pacta

Despite centuries of contact with European settlers, missionaries and colonists, the Amerindian populations of the Rio Negro have maintained their traditional agricultural systems as an integral aspect of their way of life, central to a coherent tapestry of ancestral practices, biodiversity and social structures.

Registered on Brazil’s Intangible Heritage list in 2010, the safeguarding of the Rio Negro agricultural system has become an issue of national importance.

Supported by the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, this local project works to maintain diversity at every level – from cultivated plants to the societies, cultures and techniques that produce them. A pilot research programme draws on local knowledge to explore new ways of engaging with modern techniques and society, examining the potential of local markets to promote indigenous produce, for example. At the same time, local indigenous community associations are working to raise awareness of the rich diversity of their cultures and produce. Booklets, posters and an exhibition at the Amazon Natural History Museum in Manaus highlight this continuing, living heritage, and the importance of preservation and internal innovation for its effective incorporation into a contemporary, multicultural society.

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Project run by:
UMR 208, PALOC Local heritage - IRD, Institut de recherche pour le développement, France

Laure Emperaire, botanist
Esther Katz, anthropologist
Ludivine Eloy, agro-geographer
Carlos Nery, president of the  Federation of Indigenous Organizations of the Rio Negro
Manuela Carneiro da Cunha, anthropologist
Désirée Ramos Tozi, historian and heritage specialist
Patricia Goulart Bustamante, agronomist
Lúcia van Velthem, anthropologist
Juliana Santilli, legal adviser
Janaina Diniz, management science specialist
Adeilson Lopes Da Silva, ecologist
Camila Sobral Barra, anthropologist
Carla de Jesus Dias, anthropologist
Wilde Itaborahy Ferreira, geographer