The abandonment of traditional Mayan agriculture is bringing problems in relation to all the seeds that exist in Yucatan and that are at risk of being lost, said Dr. Jaime Martínez, director of the Natural Resources Unit of the Scientific Research Center of Yucatán (CICY). ).

In the state, at the level of cultivated plants, there are different types of corn, squash and beans; In addition, their names were created by Maya indigenous people. “Of the corn there is only one species, but there are several different types, in Yucatan there is the nal xoy, x’nuk nal, ek ju’ub, and pix Cristo; talking about pumpkins, there are three species that feature short or long cycles, with short and large seeds; in the case of beans, we only have two species, which are called common beans (x’coli bu’ul) and the ibes, ” the expert said.

Regarding the X’peton, the specialist commented that it is not native to the peninsula, but is an African seed that was brought by black slaves. “Here in traditional Maya agriculture there are different species that we have as part of our food culture. The same is planted cassava, sweet potato or macal, interestingly these species are not from here but Maya farmers have planted them for years.

Maya seeds
A number of Maya seeds are in danger; Dr. Martinez mentioned: “a big problem is that many of these seeds are planted by few farmers in spaces smaller than a hectare. Besides, hurricanes, droughts and other weather phenomenoms have made agricultural activity no longer as productive as it used to be.

Many farmers are migrating towards eastern Quintna Roo, near the tourist areas; then the abandonment is bringing problems in relation to all the diversity of seeds that exist and that are at risk of being lost “.

“The species of seeds that are usually sown with less quantity in the state are the ibes, that are bieng displaced by the x’peton, because it has acquired a great taste in the food culture of the region. There are still species of ibes, but locals do not sow them anymore.,” Martinez said.

When it comes to corn, the nal tel, which is a very small corn that produces seed very fast. Farmers can plant and harvest in a two and a half months period of time, but unfortunately, as there is a lot of irregularity in rainfall, varieties like this one are disappearing, and it is in danger of extinction, “he said.

In view of this, the farmers are planting “long cycle” varieties, because at some point it will rain and they will rescue some seeds. “Of course, with this they will not be able to sell in the market or export, but much of the agriculture of the state is for their own subsistence, so that they have food for their families.”

The doctor indicated that the CICY has a germplasm bank, in which they conserve the seeds. “We have experts who study genetic diversity and how farmers manage it. We are interested in genetic improvement. How to make these seeds more productive for the local farmers”, Dr. Jaime Martínez concluded.

TYT Newsroom with information from