Efficiently managing maize resources in Peru

Peru is a diverse country: tropical climate prevails in the Eastern rain forests (“Selva”) while there is a dry desert climate in the West and in the coastal regions (“Costa”). The central Andes (“Sierra”) and the Andean plateau (“Altiplano”) are moderate to cold zones. This diversity is reflected in the agricultural systems. Peruvian smallholder farmers in all parts of the country are cultivating a multitude of maize and quinoa varieties. This biodiversity is at risk, due to increasingly extreme climate events and migration of young people to the cities, leading also to loss of the traditional knowledge concerning cultivation, use and preservation of the cultivated plants. The results: there is a chronic shortage of food especially in remote regions. A total of eight million Peruvians live below the poverty line, which is equivalent to almost 30 percent of about 30 million Peruvians.

The Capacity Building Initiative of KWS in Peru consists of various projects, completely financed by KWS, which in the long term are supposed to help improving the food security of Peruvian smallholder farmers.

In one of these projects, in cooperation with the National Agrarian University La Molina (UNALM, Lima) and Hohenheim University (Stuttgart), KWS is working on the improvement of maize genetic resources management in the UNALM gene bank. The available maize accessions from the Peruvian Costa, Selva, Sierra, and Altiplano regions are being characterized in field trials and genotyped in Hohenheim. For this purpose, an UNALM scientist is being trained in Hohenheim in genotyping, genetic diversity analysis, as well as in the identification of duplicates. All passport and characterization data are digitized and gathered in an online catalog. This project will improve gene bank efficiency and contribute to a more sustainable use of conserved maize resources.

Contact persons for more information: Paul Olson: paul.olson@kws.com, Walter Schmidt: walter.schmidt@kws.com  

Websites: Capacity Development initiative: www.kws.com/aw/KWS/company-info/Company/About-KWS/~hhox/Capacity-Development Peru project details: http://www.kws.com/li/bv/hhqn