Native Crops for Sustainable and Innovative Food Futures in Peru and Colombia (PECOLO)
The Andean region is exceptionally rich in biodiversity, harbouring an important centre of domestication of global food crops, such as potato, quinoa, corn, peanut and tomato. Such biodiversity provides a great potential to re-discover nutritionally rich local varieties and utilize them to develop innovative food applications. Utilization of native plant crops provide promising solutions to address the wider sustainability goals while providing local source of nutritious food. Diversification of the local diets enables better nutrition and can also contribute in food security in areas where food production is threatened by climate change.
Local research and development efforts are needed in order to understand the potential of local crop varieties and to develop them as truly desirable commercial products. Development of the traditional, often complex value chains, can contribute to better income opportunities for rural agricultural households and more sustainable and effective supply chains. In addition, the food loss and food waste and circular economy in food systems are opportunities to build sustainable food systems. The investments in education, research and development is the key for innovations and long-term growth.
The PECOLO project is a continuation to a long-term collaboration between Universidad Agraria la Molina and University of Turku, and has now also a new partner university in Colombia, Universidad el Bosque.
The project is a capacity-building and mobility project targeted in specialized topics in food science such as nutrition and functional foods, and in sustainability issues along the food value chain, such as environmental impacts of food production, sustainable diets and food waste and loss.
In addition, the project has a special focus on innovations and innovation environments. Futures research and foresight methodologies are used as novel tools for developing innovation environments and to assess the long-term changes and impacts for the development of the society. A network of non-academic partners along the food and agriculture value chain are invited to the innovation workshops organized by the partner universities.
The project funds a North-South-South PhD student mobility and supports PhD programme development in Food sciences and Public health.
The Project is funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland under the HEI-ICI Programme (Higher Education Institutions Institutional Capacity-Building Instrument).