Studying Agroecological Systems in Peru

Posted: November 26, 2014

During the last two weeks, students at SFS Peru have been working on their Directed Research (DR) projects. Students working under my supervision have been conducting field and archival research to contribute to building a baseline to study and improve conservation, food security, and food sovereignty through agroecological systems in the Kosñipata Valley, Cusco, Peru.

The long-term aim encompassing this project is to elaborate policy guidelines and on-site projects that would effectively help the population of the Kosñipata Valley improve their control upon the food supply chain they rely on, as well as the nutritional quality of their diet and the ecological quality of the agricultural matrix they depend on. This long-term goal would also contribute significantly to the conservation of protected areas of global relevance for their biodiversity and the ecosystems they sustain.

Students have the opportunity to conduct research that should allow us to map the geographies of food production and consumption in the Kosñipata Valley; evaluate agroecological alternatives to existing agricultural practices; and understand the environmental history and political economy of land uses in the region.

Specifically, students have conducted field work (interviews and participant observation) to gather information useful to understand the flow of foods in and out of the valley as well as the cultural perceptions and social relationships sustained and created by these flows; while also seeking to understand the environmental implications associated with these spatial relationships and land uses. In addition, students are also conducting a species inventory (both flora and fauna) for existing gardens and agroforestry plots in Villa Carmen and Pillcopata to evaluate their potential role as biological corridors and depositories of associated diversity. Last but not least, students are also studying the political economic forces shaping land uses in the valley as well as cultural practices reproducing them over time and space.