Entomophagy and food security in the Peruvian Andes

The potato is one of the most important and iconic Andean crops in Peru, which is considered the centre of origin and the main source of genetic diversity of this crop.
The "Andean weevil" is almost as abundant as the potato itself; its larvae, which lodge and feed in the tubers, are the target of exhaustive control programmes because of their ability to wipe out entire harvests. On the other hand, this pest is also sporadically consumed as food in some Andean communities. This research proposal seeks to develop a production system that allows efficient use of the Andean weevil so that it can be produced, consumed and even marketed by the Andean communities that produce potatoes, but without affecting potato production. If we consider that more than 700.000 families in Peru depend on potato cultivation, the annexation of a system for utilising the insect to the agricultural production chains shows enormous potential for supplying the diet and economy of these communities, in addition to other socio-environmental benefits. This is especially necessary in the Andean regions of Peru, whose diet is deficient in proteins and minerals essential for cognitive development, such as iron and zinc, both of which are abundant in insects. Due to its strategic location, community and cultural links, "Mil Centro", Mater Iniciativa's headquarters in Cusco will be the setting for the implementation of this initiative in alliance with local farming communities, and researchers from the Cayetano Heredia University (UPCH) and the San Antonio Abad del Cusco University (UNSAAC). The unique gastronomic component of our proposal, which will feature the participation of internationally renowned Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez, will prove to be a fundamental one in the vision of reinterpreting a destructive pest into a valuable resource for the health and economy of Peru's Andean communities.

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