Latin America and the Caribbean

Latin America and the Caribbean

CONTEXT 

In the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), we can see the effects of a rapidly changing food system that drives land use conversion, focuses on food export, and ignores the unparalleled agrobiodiversity of the region. Consider that, in the Latin America and Caribbean region: 

  •  There are approximately 187 million people face food insecurity, and nearly 43 million go hungry.  
  • The region suffers double burden of malnutrition, for each hungry person, there are six people considered obese or overweight 
  • In Guatemala, almost 50% of children under five are malnourished. In the Peruvian highlands, nearly 44% of children between 6-36 months are anemic. 

These are only a few relevant statistics within a larger story of endemic food and nutrition insecurity that has crippled the region for the past century. When you add the rising impacts of climate change on weather and the incidence of natural disaster, the outlook is even more discouraging. 

Latin America is the largest net exporter of foods, supported by the region’s lush biodiversity. Indeed, the region comprises six of the world’s ten most biodiverse countries. However, the recent focus on food export and processed foods have neglected local resources and traditional food system practices. Land use conversion—the conversion onatural ecosystems to agriculture landis three times the global rate and 13 of 107 known potato wild relatives are currently at risk for extinction.  

But details like these need not define the region’s future. Pivoting the region to focus on its biodiversity could usher in many needed improvements in food and nutrition security while also sustainably restoring food systems to promote inclusive growth for smallholder farmers and other vulnerable groups.  

OUR APPROACH 

The International Potato Center (CIP) investigates the critical interplay between food systems and the natural environment, using a range of participatory methodologies (especially for women and young peopleto monitor, restore and create value from agrobiodiversity as the basis for inclusive market systems and healthier diets.  

 Partnerships play a fundamental role in our success, particularly with the private sector, as this engenders innovation, efficiency and self-sufficiency for smallholder farmers. Furthermore, working with CIP opens doors for private sector actors looking to create inputs that support smallholder farmers.   

 Our technologies, tools and innovations have a high rate of adoption (e.g., 31% of all potato varieties in Peru were developed using CIP germplasm), as we work directly with local stakeholders to ensure products meet their needs while protecting the environment. We collaborate with a range of partners, including farmers and their organizations, academia, the private sector, civil society and government agencies

VISION 

Our vision is Latin America and the Caribbean region that contributes to a planet where the food we produce is healthynutritious, enhances environmental sustainability, and benefits the communities working so hard to preserve it.

OBJECTIVES  

Our high quality and transdisciplinary science-based solutions seek to:  

  1. Promote in situ conservation and sustainable use of agrobiodiversity.
  2. Adapt and scale innovative and participatory climate action.
  3. Facilitate the transition towards healthy diets for all. 

Designing and implementing collaborative, disruptive and impactful interventions that consistently provide science-based solutions to achieve sustainable systemic change in agri-food systems as the foundation for impact at scale require:

ACHIEVEMENTS 

  • Integrated conservation of agrobiodiversity on-farm and ex-situ, and active use of this diversity to the develop new varieties. More than forty potato and sweetpotato varieties have been released in the Latin America and Caribbean region alone. The most important potato varieties in Peru and Costa Rica were bred using CIP germplasm. 
  • Inclusive value chain linkages to reposition native potato biodiversity in urban markets. Thousands of smallholders now have access to increased income, more stable market linkages and several new products on the market.  
  • A portfolio of participatory methods and tools developed in LAC and globally deployed with success: Participatory market chain approaches, farmer fields schools, and participatory varietal selection. 

PROJECTS 

Andean Initiative 
Central America 

CONTACTS 

Ginya Truitt Nakata
Regional Director, Latin America & the Caribbean
  .

Horacio Rodríguez Vázquez
Senior ManagerOperations & Impact at Scale
  .

Stef de Haan
Senior Scientist Andean Food Systems & Lead of the Andean Initiative

Claudio Velasco Mac Lean
Central America Coordinator

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