Innovative climate-smart agriculture system in degraded areas combined with traditional knowledge

Mexican Landscape
  • Country: Mexico
  • Organisation: Proyecto Mixteca Sustentable A.C.
  • Support area: Adapting to the impacts of climate change
  • IKI funding: 100,658 euros
  • Project start: 01/06/2023
  • Project end: 30/12/2024
  • Website:

The project takes place in twelve indigenous communities in Mexico, where extensive grazing and deforestation for firewood are causing severe land degradation, water scarcity, soil loss, resulting in low agricultural productivity. This IKI Small Grants project aims to enhance the capacity of local farmers in field schools by strengthening the innovations and the traditional knowledge of Mixtec indigenous producers. The project includes ecosystem restoration, agroforestry systems, and reinforcement of territorial governance structures. Therefore, agricultural plots are created and the applied agroecological practices are monitored in cooperation with a local university. Further, organised field trips promote the exchange of experiences and make the project results accessible to various local stakeholders.


The project is located in twelve communities in the municipality of Santiago Tilantongo, Nochixtlan in Oaxaca, Mexico, with a total population of 2,765 people. The region is strongly affected by deforestation, erosion, soil loss, and water scarcity. This results in a low agricultural productivity, exacerbating the marginalisation and rural exodus of the local population. Extensive goat grazing, deforestation for firewood extraction, and the loss of ancestral agricultural practices are doing the rest. The average degradation in the area is 17,000 hectares per year. It is estimated that for every kilogram of corn produced, up to 20 kilograms of soil are lost. The local population practices subsistence agriculture by using the traditional milpa crop-growing system, which is not supported by the government. The main crops are corn, different varieties of beans, pumpkins, chili peppers, tomatoes, and many others.


The target group of this project is the Mixtec indigenous population: 12 promoters, 18 producers, 18 students, and two teachers in a communal territory in Oaxaca, Mexico. Each family has the right to work on two or three plots of half a hectare of land and community grazing areas. The producers primarily use the milpa production for self-consumption and only a few surpluses for sale. In a previous project, a group of women from San Isidro called ‘Hijas de la Tierra’ as well as twelve promoters from the communities were already trained, and students have received training on master challenges related to production, agriculture, and climate change.


This IKI Small Grants project is a continuation of a process started in 2018 in the proposed area and adopts a climate-smart agriculture model. The project aims to strengthen the traditional knowledge of Mixtec indigenous producers in the twelve localities. The project includes practices for productive restoration of ecosystems, agroforestry systems, and strengthening territorial governance for using natural resources. This ensures a sustainable production method that guarantees food security. It also creates further sources of income for the local communities through by-products.

Further, the project seeks to expand the agroecological models and practices and trains producers, students, and members of the villages on basic monitoring of changes in climate by applying an early warning system to take precautionary decisions. A group of promoters was previously selected and trained, who are responsible for monitoring. The project develops the local capacities in field schools to establish traditional crops and innovative practices. Monitoring mechanisms are created according to the climate-smart agriculture model. In addition, the management of traditional knowledge is strengthened through studies previously carried out and through the exchange of experiences with producers and promoters. The project is accompanied by an academic research institution, allowing students to link their final theses to this project. The project also influences the students’ curriculum and contributes to the improvement of local high school board. Furthermore, the water supply for the productive activities is improved by co-financing activities from other donors and through the restoration of the ecosystems. The whole process and the results are recorded and made accessible to various local stakeholders.


IKI Small Grants supports Proyecto Mixteca Sustentable A.C. in their organisational capacity development through:

  • training on early warning systems for CSA practices and evaluation of climate intelligence indicators
  • staff training on long-term diversified fundraising capacities


Proyecto Mixteca Sustentable A.C. is a non-profit civil organisation committed to the functional restoration of landscapes and the conservation of ecosystem services that promote a sustainable development of local livelihoods in Mexico. Since 2015, its objective is to promote comprehensive processes of community development, through sustainable production practices and conservation of natural resources, using tools and methodologies of participatory planning and self-management. The organisation is also part of the network of donor organizations in the water area of the Fundación Gonzalo Río Arronte I.A.P.