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“I never say I own this land,” says Eladio Pop, an ethnic Maya who lives and farms near the ruins of the ancient Mayan city of Lubaantun in southern Belize. “I can only be a caretaker.”
Pop farms maize, but also tends and later harvests edible wild plants in the nearby forest, although he never waters these plants.
In the nearby Maya Mountain Research Farm, some farmers and NGOs are testing new ways of making agriculture more sustainable. They encourage other local farmers to abandon the traditional ‘slash and burn’ technique, which involves cutting down trees and burning the area to clear space to grow maize and beans.
They also want to prove that interspersing crops among forest trees improves food security, the crops’ robustness and human diet.