Agrobiodiversity, a strength of high Andean agriculture has been an interest of Grupo Yanapai since 1999. For 10 years we helped with the agrobiodiversity fair in the annex of Colpar of the Quilcas community. This fair stopped for several years but has now restarted solely on the initiative of the farmers of Colpar. Yanapai has participated in various studies trying to understand the management of these varieties and has promoted cataloguing as tools to help maintain local knowledge. Yanapai has collaborated in helping with a new catalogue of varieties of Junín modeled on the 2009 catalogue one which the International Potato Center has printed for the varieties of Huancavelica.
In Chopcca, Huancavelica, Yanapai has documented varieties of crops after harvesting over 100 fields and 285 questionnaires about how farmers grow their crops, to understand the role of agrobiodiversity in food security.
From a rights based approach Yanapai has collaborated with the Fredjof Nansen Institute of Norway to understand farmers point of view on ways to implement clause 9 (farmers rights to share benefits) of the International Treaty which Peru singed in 2004 (www.fni.org). Today we are partners of the recently formed initiative Chirapaq Ñam (www.facebook.com/chirapaqNan) which main role is a robust and scientific approach to monitor potato and sweetpotato diversity in hotspots in the Andes and Indonesia. Yanapai is also part of a support group of farmers association; Asociacion de agriuculors Custodios del Centro del Peru (AGUAPAN) where benefits from social responsibility, HZPC, a commercial potato company from the Netherlands under social responsibility and has sent funds which have been distributed to 43 custodian families. in Central Peru.
Nutrition is a relatively new field for Grupo Yanapai, born out the realization that it is not acceptable to be working on agriculture in farming communities where there is a high level of malnutrition. We ask ourselves, what good is the work on agriculture if the children are stunted both physically and mentally, and especially, if after age 2 this is irreversible. Nutritionists call this the first 1000 days. Thus the window of opportunity to prevent it is small, however, it seemed an achievable goal since we were already working in the area. It turns out that those objectives were hard to reach, as changes that are necessary are hard to achieve. We are now on our second project with the aim of improving diets through farming.
Animal husbandry complements crops and has the potential of balancing Andean diets, as well as lifting families out of poverty by providing opportunities for income, as there is a high demand for animal products. Yanapai works with improving natural and cultivated pastures, animal health with emphasis in raising small animals, (chicken and guinea pigs) as women can use these for households or for extra income.
Soils play a key role in fertility in agriculture and ecosystem service and as buffers for climate change. Soils are difficult to work on due to slow change in improving soils to reap the benefits when farmers and projects have a short term in mind. Yanapai has a long term vision, trying to prevent soil degradation by best practices in agriculture. Currently we are researching if planting legumes/grass mixture during fallow not only improves the availability of fodder (a constant shortage) but also improves soil fertility (see project 13-305).