AGRI-CULTURE: The Milpa v. Mono-culture Planting and The Meaning of Multiculturalism




The Maya traditionally plant their corn in what is called a Milpa. The Milpa is a term which can refer to the entire field or to the single mound in which generally four corn seeds are planted along with squash and beans. Each corn seed is selected by hand and if desired a variety of species may be planted together in one mound.

The milpa is interdependent, and thrives due to this relationship. When compared to mono-culture planting which is practiced heavily in the United States a number of features become evident. In the U.S. the vast fields generally sprawl out as far as the eye can see. The single species (genetically engineered) seed which is planted in each of these fields depends on specific fertilizes, pesticides and herbicides which are matched to the seed. [The same company that produces the seed produces the fertilizers, etc.]

As long as no "new" unanticipated insect, fungus, or disease appears, the crop is generally protected by the chemical additives. But if a new strain of virus should attack, one that the chemicals are not prepared to fight, the entire crop may be destroyed - it is literally an open field for the infestation.

The milpa, which does not rely on chemicals, and because of it's diversity of species and types of plants, is not as susceptible to a new disease which would most often affect only one of the species (but not all); and in fact, the disease would become "lost" within the diversity since it could not travel unhindered, as is the case in the mono-culture fields. (The milpas are also generally small and have hedgerows - which attract and provide homes for birds which eat a variety of insects that could harm the plants.)

To place this agricultural comparison in the "cultural" context it is rather simple to note that mono-culture planting - The New World Order - is dependent on artificial, outside "controls" and is quite vulnerable to the unforeseen - and it is monotonous - while the milpa in it's diversity has proven itself over the millennium to be resilient. The milpa clearly illustrates that the differences in cultural expression - living side by side and interacting - should not just be "tolerated" but are essential to our survival, and should be celebrated and encouraged.

The same could also be said for political models, and religious beliefs and practices.
Knowledge is enriched by diversity not uniformity.


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