LTRA-7: Pathways to CAPS in the Andes
Jeffrey Alwang, professor, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech
- George W. Norton, professor, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech
- Darrell Bosch, professor, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech
- Paul Backman, professor, Department of Plant Pathology, Penn State University
- Robert Sean Gallagher, associate professor, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Penn State University
- Richard Stehouwer, professor, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Penn State University
- Sarah Hamilton, associate professor and director, Master’s Program in International Development, University of Denver
- Jorge A. Delgado, soil scientist, U.S. Department of Agriculture Soil Plant Nutrient Research Unit, Fort Collins, Colo.
- Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT)
- Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agropecuarias (INIAP), lead partner
- International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI)
- Secretaría Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (SENACYT)
- Universidad Estatal de Bolívar (UEB)
- Escuela Superior Politécnica del Chimborazo (ESPOCH)
- Secretaría Nacional del Agua (SENAGUA)
- Gobierno de la Provincia de Bolívar (GPB), Alcaldía de Guaranda y Chillanes
- Sistema de Información Geográfica Agropecuaria (SIGAGRO-MAG)
- Foundation for the Promotion and Research of Andean Products (PROINPA), lead partner
- Universidad Mayor de San Simon
- Centro Regional Avaroa
- Sindicato Agraria Tiraque, Alcaldía de Tiraque
Rural populations in the Andean Region of South America are frequently dependent on a single food crop: the potato. The keys to addressing food insecurity in the area are improving potato yields, reducing yield variability, and introducing companion crops and activities to raise farm families’ incomes.
A major challenge to doing so is to find agricultural technologies and innovative practices that raise farm families’ incomes and increase production while improving the environment. The region has many areas where productivity is low due to poor soils, and erratic rainfall. People in the region have adapted to environmental challenges by expanding the agricultural frontier into fragile highland areas. These practices, while solving short-term problems, contribute in the long run to poverty, increasing rates of soil degradation, and food insecurity.
This project will use research in soil sciences, cropping systems, plant pathology, and economic and social sciences to design, evaluate, and disseminate conservation agricultural technologies for the region. The focus will be on potatoes, the key food crop of the region. A number of conservation agriculture practices will be examined and adapted to build a more productive, resilient farming system: improved crop rotations, including introduction of disease-resistant bean varieties and pest-free planting stocks; integrated pest management; use of cover crops, green manures, and biological soil and seed amendments; and higher-value crops such as medicinal herbs and Andean fruits. The two research sites will be in the Upper Chimbo River area in central Ecuador, and Tiraque near Cochabamba in Bolivia.