The project "Strengthening the On-farm Conservation and Food Security of Andean Tubers in the Fragile Ecosystems of the Southern Peruvian Highlands" took place from 1995 to 2005 in six traditional rural communities (Picol, Matinga, Qqueccayoq, Poques, Chumpe, and Sayllafaya) of Cuzco, Peru, where 470 families benefited (2200 inhabitants) from the project. Also, farmers of more than 30 communities near or around the six villages already mentioned benefited from the project as the results were disseminated through farmer's and children schools, farmer's workshops, seminars, congresses, and broadcasted through a local radio program in the native language to Andean farmers.
Among the most outstanding benefits to farmers is the integrated approach developed to successfully managing the Andean weevil complex. In the rural communities of Cuzco, the oca weevil, ulluco weevil and Andean potato weevil, which were found in the project to be different species, are the most dangerous pests of the starchy Andean tubers oca (Oxalis tuberosa), ulluco (Ullucus tuberosus), and potatoes (Solanum spp.). The approaches blend ancestral indigenous knowledge and modern scientific research. These includes rooting out volunteer plants, plowing after harvest, using sheets at harvest to prevent larvae from pupating, putting ash at the base of the plants to prevent weevil infestation, using the parasitic fungus Beauveria brongniartii at the first mounding and at stores, early harvesting, planting weevil free sprouts, and using chickens as predators. This strategy has dramatically reduced damages from 90-98% to less than 25%.
Another important contribution beneficial for poor farmers has been the improvement of traditional strategy to store Andean tubers. Farmers of the six villages were rather reluctant to use sprout inhibitors to store Andean tubers because of the unpleasant flavor of the tubers treated with the chemical. So, the traditional strategy called taq'ue utilized by farmers to store Andean tubers was improved by using resources of the community, this is cost effective and in harmony with environment. Losses were reduced from 16-18% to less than two percent. Farmers showed their willingness to use the new version of taq'ues by the construction of more taq'ues by themselves.
Biodiversity of oca, ulluco and mashua were also restored in the communities of Picol, Matinga, and Queccayoq from two to three cultivars per crop and planted occasionally by two to three families to two-27 cultivars grown today by almost all the families living the three communities. The tuber seed flow was also found to be an important strategy used consciously or unconsciously by farmers of the six communities already mentioned for successful on-farm conservation and utilization of Andean tubers.
Identification of mashua cultivars showing a great range of glucosinolate content has been the basis for further studies of this secondary metabolite as its genetics is being studied. The identification of the parasitic nematodes Steirnernema and Heterorhabditis for weevil control has stimulated further studies to use the two nematodes in the integrated management of the Andean weevil complex in a not too distant future.