Learning about ANDESCROP

Giulia Maria Baldinelli reports from Bolivia

The project ANDESCROP is a conjunct initiative among the Faculty of Science of the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), the Faculty of Agronomics of the Univerisidad Mayor de San Andrés of La Paz and the Bolivian Fundación Para la Promoción e Investigación de Productos Andinos – PROINPA.

The project is funded by the Danish government through the programme DANIDA and it is being implemented in Bolivia, in four communities of the Northern Altiplano (Rosa Pata, Jutilaya, Carabuco and Marca Hilata), three of the Central Altiplano (Villa Patarani, Kolluhuma and Quesería), three of the Southern Altiplano (Yuja, Saitoco, and Chacala), and five in the Inter-Andean valleys (Anquioma Alto and Bajo, Hornuni, Angostura and Lloja).

The objective is to improve food security in the Andean region by developing methods for sustainable use of Andean plant genetic resources, soil, water and biodiversity, and by linking small-scale producers to modern markets; another priority is strengthening local research capacity and developing human resources for continued and innovative research and development in the Andean crops.

Andescrop is carried out with six priority species: Andean seed crops (quinoa, cañahua, tarwi) and Andean tuber and roots (native potato, oca and ahipa).

The research components of Andescrop are agro-biodiversity richness, which comprises the study of genetic resources, ethnobotany and seeds; organic farming systems of Andean crops, including soil fertility, water resources, crop management, and plant health; and food security and economics comprising the commercialization of Andean crops and food security.

The project started in 2010 and will be carried out until December 2013.

So far, local varieties of Andean crops of potential for future food production have been selected, and presented in the form of variety gardens in highland communities to promote the highly nutritional crops and varieties. 
Informal seed systems have been studied, and especially for Andean roots and tubers participatory plots have been established for propagating and promoting local varieties. 
Soil erosion studies have been established in the Southern Altiplano where quinoa production is threatened by an unsustainable, mechanized production. Rural water sources have been classified, pest and disease problems of Andean crops identified, and the Andean crops seed production chain has been studied.

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