Gabriele Stoll
Natural Crop Protection in the Tropics
Letting Information Come to Life
Letting information come to life
Potato Moth Control with Local Plants in the
Storage of Potato
by Norma Canales Rivera (GIAREC),
Raúl Canto Retamozo (Yanapai Group)

In Peru, potato production is a traditional activity developed by small farmers of the Andes under difficult ecological, socio-economical and political conditions. The potato represents one of the major accomplishments in the domestication of wild plants by the Incas. In large parts of the Andes, this crop is the most important staple food for the local population.
In the 1950’s, with the increasingly commercial orientation of potato production, international agricultural research centres developed and introduced hybrid varieties, generally known as "improved". These are characterized by a short vegetation period in combination with the application of high amounts of external inputs, particularly fertilizer. The increasing adoption of these varieties in the Andes led to a process of substitution of the native varieties for "improved" varieties, causing a reduction of genetic diversity in terms of loss of varieties. On the other hand, the limited economic capacity of the small farmers could not cope with the demands of the "improved" varieties, which generated an increased susceptibility to insect pests and diseases, and which decreased the production and productivity of potatoes of the small farmers.

Inter-Institutional collaboration and arrangements
In 1995, the ILEIA Project of the ETC Foundation (Netherlands) established an alliance with non-governmental organizations (YANAPAI GROUP, IDEA-PERU, REDES) and agricultural research centres (CEA-Universidad Nacional del Centro, INIA-Ministry of Agriculture, IVITA-Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos) of the central sierra of Peru, in order to evaluate the viability of Low-External Input Sustainable Agriculture (LEISA) as an option for alternative development.
The Collaborative Group of Agroecological Research – Central Region (GIAREC) was created as an inter-institutional platform in order to promote a process of innovation and improvement of agro-pastoral practices and customs within the context of strengthening the technological, organizational, and political capacities with LEISA criteria, oriented towards sustainability.
LEISA is an approach to agricultural development, promoted by ILEIA, to revert the negative effects of the 'modernization' of agriculture for small farmers and to improve food self-sufficiency, as well as to conserve natural resources and contribute to social equity. It is based upon the active participation of both male and female farmers, their knowledge of the ecosystem, local culture, their experience developed through empirical experimentation, and the continued adaptation of technologies to their own conditions. It also attempts to develop an environmental awareness which would lead to a rational use of the local resources as well as external inputs. Further it intends to strengthen the capacities and abilities which encourage the adaptation of agricultural production to the local needs and changing conditions, and to give the necessary competencies to the farmers – both men and women – in order to shape their future based on their knowledge, skills, values, culture, and local institutions.
Within this approach, Participatory Technology Development (PTD) became the central methodological pillar to strengthen the capacity of rural people in experimentation and innovation. Through a process of interaction of knowledge and experience among the farmers, the agricultural research centres and the non-governmental development organizations (members of the GIAREC) it is expected that the farmers are enabled to better develop agricultural techniques appropriate to the specific agroecological and socio-economical context
Causes and Effects
Participatory Technology Development (PTD)
Participatory Technology Development (PTD) is based on a research approach which is controlled by the farmers. It can be characterized as a process of creative interaction between farmers and researchers, which intends to develop or adapt technologies suitable to solve specific local problems and which contribute to the development of sustainable production systems.
In PTD, the farmer is the main actor in decision-making during the whole research process, from diagnosis through implementation to the dissemination of the results. Formal research assumes a complementary, supportive role (675). With this methodology, farmers define the research agenda, they define the design and variables, and they are actively involved in the implementation of the experiment, the monitoring, and evaluation.

The printed version contains more information about the following themes:

Learning the key concepts of PTD and  identifying interest groups
Understanding the problems and production potentials
Visualizing causes and effects of the problem
Searching for solutions to test
Organizing the experiments and encouraging local skills
Designing, implementing and managing the experiments
Evaluating the experiments
Lessons learned