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The importance of the traditional milpa in food security and nutritional self-sufficiency in the highlands of Oaxaca, Mexico

Creator: Novotny, I.P.
Creator: Tittonell, P.
Creator: Fuentes Ponce, M.
Creator: Lopez-Ridaura, S.
Creator: Rossing, W.A.H.
Year: 2021
Language: English
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Copyright: CIMMYT manages Intellectual Assets as International Public Goods. The user is free to download, print, store and share this work. In case you want to translate or create any other derivative work and share or distribute such translation/derivative work, please contact indicating the work you want to use and the kind of use you intend; CIMMYT will contact you with the suitable license for that purpose
Type: Article
Country focus: Mexico
Place of Publication: San Francisco, CA (USA)
Issue: 2
Volume: 16
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0246281
Description: Around 30% of global food is produced by smallholder farmers, yet they constitute the most food-insecure group. In Mexico, food self-sufficiency is declining. Rural policies in the country have stimulated the production of cash crops to the detriment of the traditional intercropping system, the milpa. Such a decline may have negative consequences for the food security of subsistence farmers. This study aimed to assess changes in nutritional self-sufficiency over the last 30 years and the role of milpa systems in food security for two communities in the highlands of Oaxaca, Mexico. The study used satellite images, censuses, and field data to estimate food production. Three cropping systems, monoculture of maize, monoculture of common bean, and the milpa were compared in terms of nutrients and vitamins produced. Furthermore, a household typology was developed for each community to contrast nutritional self-sufficiency levels between the different household types. Results showed that the milpa produced more volume of food per area compared to the other systems. The milpa also produced all the nutrients and vitamins (except for B12) required to feed at least 2 persons ha-1. Monocultures of maize lacked vitamins A, B9, B12, and C, and the common bean lacked vitamins A, B12, and C. While farmers recognized the importance of the milpa, they preferred monocultures due to the reduced labor demands of this system. Households that obtained most of their income from off-farm activities had the lowest nutritional self-sufficiency. Enhancing nutritional self-sufficiency through crop diversification has the potential to not only improve the nutrition of subsistence farmers, but also to enhance ecosystem service provision, promote biodiversity conservation and restoration, and improve resilience to climate change.
Agrovoc: CROPS
Agrovoc: BEANS
Agrovoc: MAIZE
Related Datasets:
Elocator: 0246281
ISSN: 1932-6203
Journal: PLoS ONE

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  • Sustainable Intensification
    Sustainable intensification agriculture including topics on cropping systems, agronomy, soil, mechanization, precision agriculture, etc.

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