Climate Change in the High Andes: Implications and Adaptation Strategies for Small-scale Farmers

By Carlos Perez, Claire Nicklin, Olivier Dangles, Steven Vanek, Stephen Sherwood, Stephan Halloy, Karen A. Garrett and Gregory Forbes.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Global climate change represents a major threat to sustainable farming in the Andes. Farmers have used local ecological knowledge and intricate production systems to cope, adapt and reorganize to meet climate uncertainty and risk, which have always been a fact of life. Those traditional systems are generally highly resilient, but the predicted effects, rates and variability of climate change may push them beyond their range of adaptability. This article examines the extent of actual and potential impacts of climate variability and change on small-scale farmers in the highland Andes of Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. It describes how climate change impacts agriculture through deglaciation, changes in hydrology, soil and pest and disease populations. The article highlights some promising adaptive strategies currently in use by or possible for producers, rural communities and local institutions to mitigate climate change effects while preserving the livelihoods and environmental and social sustainability of the region.

Keywords: Andes, Sustainable Agriculture, Climate Change, Soil, IPM, Glaciers

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 6, Issue 5, pp.71-88. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 656.944KB).

Dr. Carlos Perez

Ecological Anthropologist, International Research Institute for Climate and Society, Columbia University, NY, NY, USA

Carlos A. Pérez is an Ecological Anthropologist who works for the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), at Columbia University, NY, as Senior Analyst for Sustainable Development. He also has a joint appointment with the Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP) of the McKnight Foundation as its Liaison Scientist in the Andean Region (Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru). His research focuses on the social dimensions of climate variability and economic vulnerability within agriculture and natural resources management, and particularly the strategies that small-farmers use to adapt to economic and climatic risks. He specializes in ecological agriculture, agrobiodiversity, watershed management and natural resource management.

Claire Nicklin

Regional Representative - The Andes, Collaborative Crop Research Program, The McKnight Foundation, Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador

Claire Nicklin has been working with the Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP) of the McKnight Foundation since 2005 as the Andean Representative. She has lived in Ecuador since 1999 and also works as a consultant on various agricultural and environmental projects including Rainforest Alliance certification of cacao, agrobiodiversity conservation, global warming, ecotourism and ecohealth. Claire has a B.A from Wesleyan University in the Science in Society Program and a Master in International Agriculture and Rural Development from Cornell University.

Olivier Dangles

Researcher in Ecology, Institute for Research Development (IRD), Quito, Ecuador

Olivier Dangles is a researcher at the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador (PUCE), Quito, Ecuador, and a Research Fellow at the Institute for Research & Development (IRD). His research concentrates on modeling the dynamics of invasive insect herbivore communities, the mechanisms of selection of niche relationship “biodiversity-ecosystem functioning, and predator-prey relationships in the Andean ecosystems.

Steven Vanek

Department of Horticulture, Cornell University, NY, USA

Steven Vanek is a doctoral candidate in the department of soil and crop sciences at Cornell University. He is currently finishing a dissertation on farmer nutrient management in Northern Potosí, Bolivia and the role of rock phosphate in improving legume nitrogen fixation and phosphorus fertility in the Bolivian Andes. He has also worked to develop and test a farmer simulation game to teach principles of soil nutrient management in Andean contexts. He has collaborated with World Neighbors, an international NGO working to improve food security and nutrition in Northern Potosí, and has also worked on research with Organic Farming, cover cropping, and soil management in the Northeastern United States.

Stephen Sherwood

EkoRural, Ecuador

Stephen Sherwood is a Rural Innovation Specialist at EkoRural (Ecuador) and a Lecturer at Wageningen University (the Netherlands). He has supported grassroots development efforts in Central and South America for over 20 years, working for a number of organizations, including the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development, the International Potato Center, and the Food and Agriculture Organization. His present research focuses on needed institutional transition in Science and Development for sustainable food systems and climate change adaptation.

Stephan Halloy

The Nature Conservancy, Santiago, Chile and Universidad Nacional de Chilecito, La Rioja, Argentina

Stephan Hallow is Science Coordinator for the Southern Andes Conservation Program of The Nature Conservancy, and professor of ecology at the Universidad Nacional de Chilecito, Argentina, where he coordinates research and teaches on conservation and sustainable development in the context of climate change. He works in prioritizing conservation actions based on environmental and social vulnerabilities and threats, and monitoring impacts of management and global change on biodiversity. This work is linked to integrated social-environmental and economic development, complex systems analyses, scenarios of global change, and development of alternative diversified land uses for improved quality of life and wealth distribution. He has published over 70 papers and books and other reports and extension articles.

Karen A. Garrett

Associate Professor, Department of Plant Pathology, Kansas State University, Kansas, USA

Karen A. Garrett is an associate professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at Kansas State University (USA). She studies the ecology and ecological genomics of plant disease and other plant stressors. In agricultural systems, she works to improve plant disease management in US and tropical farming through resistance gene deployment and sustainable cultural practices. In natural systems, her research focuses on plant-pathogen-environment interactions in tallgrass prairie and tropical forests.

Gregory Forbes

International Potato Center, Lima, Peru

Greg Forbes received his PhD degree in plant pathology from Texas A&M University and spent two years in a postdoctoral position in Montpellier, France at the Institute National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA). He has worked with the International Potato Center since 1989 with responsibility for research on potato late blight. Forbes is interested in management of potato late blight in developing countries and has coordinated the Global Initiative on Late Blight (GILB). Lately he has participated in the development of methods and materials for building disease management capacity of resource-poor farmers. Forbes is currently serving on the editorial board of Plant Pathology and is Senior Editor at Phytopathology.


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