Ursula Chavez Zander, Angel Mujica Sanchez, Michael Krawinkel:
Andean Agricultural Biodiversity, Socio-Economic Factors and their Impact on Dietary Diversity and Nutritional Status: Case Study in Puno, Peru

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URSULA CHAVEZ ZANDER1, ANGEL MUJICA SANCHEZ2, MICHAEL KRAWINKEL1
1Justus-Liebig University of Giessen, International Nutrition Unit, Germany
2National University of Altiplano, Ibero-American Network of knowledge of plant environment (RISAPRET), Peru

Despite the high food plant biodiversity of the whole Andean region of Latin America and its nutritional potential to improve human nutrition, the rural population in Peru is still suffering malnutrition.

To achieve Millennium Development Goal I sustainable strategies schould be developed. Food Diversification can be a sustainable approach.

Crop production in Puno, situated at 3,580m a.s.l., includes a great variety of potato, quinoa (C. quinoa Willd.), cañihua (Chenopodium pallidicaule Aellen), tarwi (Lupinus mutabilis Sweet) and many other species. Unfortunately some of these are neglected despite their high nutritional potential (high quality protein, iron, calcium, provitamin A etc) in the present time.

Several local communities, however, still keep traditional knowledge and farming practices contributing to their food security.

Decrease of traditional knowledge, lack of nutrition education and adoption of urban consumption patterns of high energy but low nutrient density foods influence utilisation of traditional species and impair a healthy balanced diet.

Aim of the study was to assess the impact of traditional andean crops on local food security. Socio-economic factors were also considered.

Four Aymara rural communities at different ecological regions in the South of Puno at the Lake of Titicaca were selected. They live and show different degrees of agrodiversity at different altitude: at 3850m, 3947m and 4100m a.s.l.

Semi-structured interviews and a semi"=quantitative 24h"=recall were conducted with women between 15-49 years of age. Their nutritional status was measured with anthropometric indicators (height and weight for calculation of BMI), hemoglobin levels and collection of dried blood samples for quantification of retinol binding protein (for Vit A status) and transferrin receptor (for iron status).

The survey and measurements were carried out in three periods: rainy, post-harvest and farming season.

Results of this study will highlight the need of strategies for diffusion of information about a healthy and balanced diet for vulnerable groups (women, children, sick and elder people) in the higher Andean area. It is expected that the nutritional value of traditional species can be demonstrated as well as the need to supporting programmes linking traditional agriculture and nutrition security.



Keywords: Andean crops, dietary diversity, human nutrition, Peru


Footnotes

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Contact Address: Ursula Chavez Zander, Justus-Liebig University of Giessen, International Nutrition UnitWilhelmstr. 20, 35392 Giessen, Germany, e-mail: ursula.chavez-zander@ernaehrung.uni-giessen.de
Andreas Deininger, November 2008