A persistent problem in the dominant agricultural development model is the imposition of technologies without regard to local processes and cultures. Even with the recent shift towards sustainability and agroecology, initiatives continue to overlook local knowledge. In this article we provide analysis of agroecological soil management in the Maya-Achi territory of Guatemala. The Achí, subject to five decades of interventions and development, present an interesting case study for assessing the complementarities and tensions between traditional, generally preventative practices and external initiatives which tend to be curative. Our findings reveal a complex farming system that continues to rely on ancestral knowledge and practices, many of which display a high potential for sustainability and are deeply embedded in local culture. While some new practices have been incorporated into the traditional system, abandonment rates are high, and some extension methods have been paternalistic. The Achí are thirsty for new ideas to help them confront their current, unprecedented challenges. However, future collaborations should be built on existing local knowledge, which has contributed to the development of preventative and restorative practices still in use. Introduced technologies must coincide with local needs and socioecological context in a manner that encourages beneficial synergies, as well as horizontal learning/teaching processes.
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We are deeply indebted to our guides, participants, and agroecology promoters who so willingly shared their time and wisdom. We are also thankful to the leaders of Qachuu Aloom and ACPC. Without your assistance and blessings this research would never have been possible. Finally, we are grateful of Stephen Gliessman for his comments and support.
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Einbinder, N., Morales, H., Mier y Terán Giménez Cacho, M. et al. Agroecology from the ground up: a critical analysis of sustainable soil management in the highlands of Guatemala. Agric Hum Values 39, 979–996 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-022-10299-1