Strengthening national maize breeding programs 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.

One of the project compares different selection methods in local, open pollinated maize populations. The target is to illustrate the effects on the selection success. For this project, KWS cooperates with the maize improvement program of the National Institute of Agricultural Innovation (INIA, Cusco). Another experiment is used to enhance the maize tolerance to acid soils. Both trials are expected to strengthen national maize breeding programs and to deliver new, improved maize varieties for the Sierra areas.

Contact persons for more information: Paul Olson:, Walter Schmidt:  

Websites: Capacity Development initiative: Peru project details: