LTRA-4: Practices and Strategies for Vulnerable Agro-ecosystems

Research Focus

Amid climate, economic, and social changes in the Andean regions of Bolivia and Peru, small landholders are increasingly vulnerable to environmental and market shocks and stresses. This project works with farmers to explore ways of adapting to change and building resilient livelihood systems. The goal is to achieve food security and biodiversity by teaching rural communities how to conduct research and develop production alternatives.

Principal Investigators

Corinne Valdivia, lead PI
University of Missouri

Peter Motavalli and Jere Gilles
University of Missouri

Karen Garrett
Kansas State University

Anji Seth
University of Connecticut

Cornelia Flora and Jan Flora
Iowa State University

Jorge Cusicanqui and Magali García
Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, Bolivia

Elizabeth Jiménez
Universidad de la Cordillera, Bolivia

Miguel Angel Gonzales and Javier Aguilera
PROINPA, Bolivia

Edith Fernández Baca, Cecilia Turín, and Silvana Vargas
Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Peru

Roberto Quiroz and Greg Forbes
International Potato Center (CIP), Lima, Peru



LTRA-4 launched its website in 2008, providing links to details of the project’s objectives, partners, publications, and reports. Each page features a photo of SANREM team members at various research sites and in meetings and workshops with local farmers. See:


Research indicates that, by mid-century, the region can expect fewer days of frost, longer heat waves, a shorter but more intense rainy season, and more consecutive dry days. Farmers perceive that climate risks and shocks are increasing, citing as examples the droughts of the 1980s, followed by frosts, hail, and floods that have become stronger.

To help communities respond to these changes, the SANREM team is testing strategies and technologies to mitigate weather-related risks, enhance soil organic matter, preserve cultivars and native plants, and find new markets for long-established crops. Scientists are seeking to improve farm productivity with conventional and alternative organic fertilizers such as compost and peat moss, and to determine how soil quality is affected by changes in fallow length and cropping systems. In collaboration with CIP, researchers are studying pest dynamics and diseases in the production of potatoes, particularly management of white moth, Andean potato weevil, and late blight outbreaks in changing climatic conditions. PROINPA Foundation, which preserves and promotes native Andean crops, is working with SANREM in Bolivia to make the region’s products more commercially competitive.

Few small farmers in the region have access to credit through conventional financial institutions like banks, relying instead on savings, sale of livestock, or off-the-farm jobs to survive crop loss and other setbacks. To increase farmers’ negotiating power in the marketplace, SANREM researchers are using an advocacy coalitions approach to strengthen social and political capital and to improve access to financial capital and market outlets.

Networking is an integral part of this project’s mission to build and transfer new knowledge. Workshops and field days offer practical technologies and strategies that farmers can learn and use effectively. SANREM researchers in 2008 shared climate-change projections and ongoing research on adaptation for the Altiplano with Bolivia’s National Program on Climate Change. With the McKnight Foundation, CIP, and the SANREM team, PI Corinne Valdivia organized a workshop in Lima on climate change and Andean agriculture production. SANREM partnered with Peru’s Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina to lead workshops for farmers on animal health and pest control.

In partnership with PROINPA, Universidad de la Cordillera, and Universidad Mayor de San Andrés in Bolivia, seminars and short courses have been offered on a wide range of topics, from handling agricultural chemicals to conducting household surveys. The project also is supporting graduate students in soil science, eco-agriculture, agricultural economics, and social sciences. By collaborating with rural communities in the Altiplano of Bolivia and Peru, as well as with universities, non-governmental organizations, and U.S. institutions, the SANREM team is developing knowledge, practices, and strategies capable of building resilient livelihoods and ecosystems across the region.