Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

Andean Agriculture


Site location: Cusco-Puno Region, Peru

Area of GIAHS: -

Population working for this system: -

Topological Characteristics: mountain lands

Climatic Classification: temperate to dry

Ethnic Groups/Indigenous People: Quechuas and Aymaras communities

Primary Income Sources: agriculture

Andean agriculture is one of the best examples of the adaptation and knowledge of farmers to their environment for more than 5000 years. Actual presence of indigenous agricultural knowledge includes terraces, ridges fields, local irrigation systems and traditional agricultural tools, crops and livestock spread at different altitudes.

Millennium experiences and selection have led to the domestication of a lot of endemic species such as potatoes and quinoa. Besides, their knowledge also includes three main agricultural systems, each one related to the altitude: the maize area (2800-3300 m.), the potato area (3,300-3800 m.) and the livestock area with high altitude crops such as quinua, cañihua (3,800-4500 m.). To each altitude, native selected crops are cultivated.

Last but not least, the indigenous communities show a strong social organization with their own norms and cultural rituals as the tribute to the Pachamama (mother earth) leading to sustainable practices but also to solidarity. Indeed, identity fortification is probably one of the main goals to be achieved through agriculture.

These areas maintain most of the ancient traditional agricultural technologies. However, actual issues such as a higher pressure from the youth leaving to the forest or the towns lead to a severe loss of knowledge and biodiversity.