The Andes is the center of domestication of many important crops, including potato, peanut, quinoa, and lupin as well as llamas, alpacas, and guinea pigs. The ancestors of modern Quechua and Ayamara people developed agriculture in the highland Andes more than 5,000 years ago. Their descendants have been refining Andean farming systems ever since to adapt to the extreme and unstable mountainous environment characterized by large diurnal temperature changes and steep slopes.
The two central principles of Andean agriculture are 1) communal structures emphasizing reciprocity, and 2) mitigating risks through a diversity of crops, varieties, planting dates, and plot locations.
Current threats to Andean agriculture include global markets for labor and food as well as climate change. Local sources of innovation are abundant. Multi-actor connections need to be strengthened to provide sustainable responses to changing conditions.
The Andes CoP encompasses the highlands (2,500 meters or higher above sea level) of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru. The CoP supports integrated and diverse production. Funding is directed toward local food systems and markets, nutrition, seed networks focused on conserving and enhancing agricultural biodiversity, ecological pest management, risk management focused on climate variability, and soil health. Pathways to change in the Andes CoP include integrating different knowledge systems, taking a landscape approach, incorporating natural and human systems, and providing various options for different contexts. The CCRP emphasizes social and horizontal learning approaches based on trust and respect at all levels and scales.
The three pillars of the Andes CoP’s capacity strengthening strategy are:
- improving research relevance through participatory approaches and a utilization focus
- improving research quality, including the ability to embrace and explain social and biophysical variability, focusing on agroecological systems using mixed methods, and connecting local and global knowledge
- communicating and sharing learnings with various audiences.