Community Engagement for Natural and cultural heritage Conservation (CEHCI)

When we look at our today`s lives, each day we see more and more people being diagnosed with serious diseases, and many chronic illnesses are reaching epidemic proportions. The size of the pharmaceutical industry is growing, meaning we are taking more and more medications but still getting sicker. Clearly, this is a waking up call to say something is not well and something has to be done to bring our communities back to their state of health as God intended. People have lost track of real food, true healing which is the main cause that has led ARCOSUD to implement this community initiative.

The aim here being to create a perpetual movement that addresses, educates, coordinates, and provides sustainable aid to eradicate food deserts, chronic malnutrition, food insecurity, hunger and prevent controllable lifestyle diseases through conservation of the natural heritage and use of cultural diets and behaviour change promotion.

Under this program, specific carefully selected heritage food crops are grown for nutrition and healing using permaculture concepts and techniques. As part of the fulfilment of these obligations, ARCOSUD uses the Integrative Nutrition

Permaculture demonstration gardens implemented in various communities:
  • To function as Seed banks
  • To provide nutrition and healing to participating communities
  • To provide research opportunities for academic and research institutions on the efficacy of traditional herbal medicine.

The following are activities implemented under the CEHCI Project.
1. Function of Seed Banks
  • To preserve the genes that plant breeders need to increase yield, improve disease resistance, strengthen drought tolerance and maintain nutritional quality and taste of the crops.
  • To conduct community capacity development to ensure management quality, promote self-financing systems to reduce dependence on external funding.
  • To ensure on-farm conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, including local neglected and underutilized plants
  • To facilitate easy access to seeds of choice by smallholder farmers
  • To contribute to the availability and exchange of ecologically adaptive seeds to farmers
  • To provide opportunities for crop diversification
  • To promote knowledge and seed exchange, and local experimentation by farmers
  • To facilitate the introduction of improved and climate-resilient varieties, for greater food and nutrition security
  • To increase awareness of agricultural biodiversity conservation and management, diversity within crop species and the role of germplasm exchange
  • To hold seed fairs annually at each community seed bank, to facilitate seed banking, and exchange of seeds and knowledge.
2. Gardening, Nutrition and Healing

ARCOSUD`s Integrative Nutrition Permaculture Gardens will showcase rare highly nutritious vegetable, culinary and medicinal plants. These therapeutic gardens produce wide variety of plants that are meant to soothe and heal the mind and body with the ultimate goal of promoting a sense of well-being and hopefulness.

These gardens are found in a variety of settings, including hospitals, skilled nursing homes, assisted living residences, continuing care retirement communities, out-patient cancer centres, hospice residences, and other related healthcare and public spaces. They provide a place of refuge for patients, their families and staff. They promote peace, healing, and stress relief, as well as providing positive distraction and psychological comfort.

3. Collaborative Research on plant medicine

Medicinal plants have long played important roles in the treatment of diseases all over the world. The use of medicinal plants as a fundamental component of the African traditional healthcare system is perhaps the oldest and the most assorted of all therapeutic systems. In many parts of rural Africa, traditional healers prescribing medicinal plants are the most easily accessible and affordable health resource available to the poor communities.

Such extensive use of traditional medicine in Africa, composed mainly of medicinal plants, has been argued to be linked to cultural and economic reasons. This is why the WHO is encouraging Af rican member states to promote and integrate traditional medical practices in their healthcare system. World health organization (WHO) recently has published a strategic plan for the development and promotion of traditional medicine in 4 areas, including: -

  • Identification of traditional medicine, presentation of a proper policy and plan.
  • Development of research and education, especially in the university level.
  • Establishment of unity and cooperation between the employees of traditional and modern medicine.
  • Development of cultivation of the needed herbs to prevent destruction of natural resources.

The increase in the production of f ree radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS) has been shown to play a critical role in the development of several chronic disorders. Medicinal plants are a source for a wide variety of natural antioxidants and are used for the treatment of diseases throughout the world. Under this program, ARCOSUD intends to work in collaboration with research institutions and relevant stakeholders in order:-

  • To achieve collaborative partnership, through stakeholder engagement in structured methods of democratic deliberation.
  • To devise shared language and concepts for research. These methods have been used to bring different parties together in a safe and collegial process of decision-making.
  • To cross-train” basic and clinical investigators so they can fully appreciate the concepts and practices of the traditional herbal medicine traditions.
  • To develop the basic literacy, knowledge and skills among traditional medicine practitioners so that they see the value of rigorous clinical research
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