Elías García, the Guardian of Native Seeds

Author: 
Wilmar Bahamón, ACT Middle Caquetá River Regional Coordinator
Date: 
Monday, March 20, 2017

The Huitorá indigenous reserve is located in the municipality of Solano, in the Colombian department of Caquetá; it is part of the area of influence of the Serranía del Chiribiquete and La Paya National Parks. There, the community protects its native seeds by tradition, but with the support of the Amazon Conservation Team and the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, this activity has become an alternative to generate income for their families without affecting their territory: the forest.

Elias Garcia is a seed promoter of this reserve. Every day, he collects and sows native seeds that are on the way to extinction. Previously, he had to travel and work for merchants that cross the Caquetá River, but now has found in the cacay tree (Caryodendron orinocense) an opportunity to generate complementary income to meet the basic necessities of his family and to conserve their territory.

Because of his interest and extensive experience in the subject, Elías has participated in exchanges at the local, regional, national and international level, led by ACT with the support of the Moore Foundation. One of these experiences was a visit to the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica, where he learned about conservation projects and strategies developed by the NGO Osa Conservation.

Elías and his community are increasingly interested in identifying, monitoring, using and cultivating cacay trees within their reserve, now having valuable information about the ecology of this and other forest species. He and his community plant and graft the cacay tree in nurseries, and collect the nut for commercialization, with sale guaranteed by the Kahai company.