Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC)

Research on improving food security in the Andean region has been given a boost thanks to the $3.4 M investment given by the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF), a collaborative program between Canada’s International Development Research Center(IDRC) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The additional funding is part of the CA$62M CIFSRF - a key component of the Government of Canada’s Food Security Strategy. Projects funded by the CIFSRF are 42 months in duration and range from CA$1 to 5 million in value each. 

The interdisciplinary study will primarily involve smallholder farmers and indigenous people in two regions of the Peruvian Andes. These two regions are known for their biodiversity and active farmers’ associations. It will examine organizational links, gender, policy, advocacy, access to markets for organic produce, and issues such as guaranteed minimum earnings in the region. It also aims to increase food security by improving sustainable, organic agriculture with focus on staple crops such as potatoes and small Andean crops. 

The research team for the study is composed of UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems Profs. Andrew Riseman, Eduardo Jovel, and Judy McLean, along with Manuel Ruiz, Peruvian Society for Environmental Law and Roberto Ugás, Universidad NacionalAgraria La Molina, and other stakeholders.

“Our goal is to enhance local farmers’ knowledge, innovations and practices regarding native crop management, improvement and selection to increase yields,” says Assoc. Prof.Riseman, who studies plant genetics and efficient use of nutrients and intercrop interaction for sustainable development.

Assoc. Prof.Jovel, an ethnobiologistand head of the UBC Aboriginal Health and Natural Products Chemistry Lab, emphasized the importance of the contributions of indigenous peoples to agriculture and food security. He further added,“The Andean region is a repository of traditional knowledge and anasset for the development of sustainable strategies for farmers.” Sophisticated Andean agricultural practices have domesticated species of plants and fruits, such as potato, corn, beans, peppers, and tomato among others. These crops make up one third of the food we eat today.

About the CIFSRF

The CIFSRF contributes to the development of more productive and sustainable agricultural techniques for women and smallholder farmers through investments in applied and interdisciplinary research. Its ultimate goal is to ensure food security for poor people in developing countries.

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