AWAJÚN, CENEPA, PERU
Community Food System Data Tables
The Awajún people are indigenous to the tropical rain forest of the Amazon in North Peru, residing along the Upper Marañon River and most of its tributaries, at elevations ranging from 200-2000 meters above sea level. Traditionally, the Awajún lived in widely dispersed hamlets, each consisting of several related households. Today the majority reside in communities on or near the major rivers of the region. There are three principal areas: Lower Cenepa, Middle Cenepa and High Cenepa with a total of 52 communities. Six Awajún communities were studied in Lower Cenepa (Figure 1).
The Awajún are subsistence farmers of cassava, banana, peanuts, maize and cacao as well as hunters and fishermen. The few individuals who have cash are those who work with local organizations or who have their own small shops. Collecting gold is a more recent source of income which is spent on wood for housing, medicines, clothes or cooking equipment. At present, it is estimated that 22% of the agricultural potential is tapped. In general, the land is agriculturally poor, aggravated by frequent erosion.
The study team was comprised of the following:
Instituto de Investigación Nutricional (IIN)
- Hilary Creed-Kanashiro (Principal Investigator)
- Miluska Carrasco (Nutritionist)
- Melissa Abad (Nutritionist)
- Sandra Vidal (Nutritionist)
- Rosario Bartolini (Anthropologist)
- Maria Luisa Huaylinos (Biochemist)
- Karla Escajadillo (Secretary)
Organización de Desarrollo de las Comunidades Fronterizas de Cenepa (ODECOFROC)
- Irma Tuesta Cerron (Nursing Auxiliary)
Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment (CINE), McGill University
- Dr Harriet Kuhnlein (Professor of Human Nutrition)
- Marion Roche (MSc Student in Human Nutrition)
- Hamilton Beltran (Botanist)
Notes on food data tables
Preliminary information on the list of local foods and their seasonality was obtained through interviews with knowledgeable local key informants. This list of foods was presented to groups of adults in 3 community discussion group sessions where a consensus of the accessibility, preference, and seasonality of Awajún food items for Low Cenepa was established. Elders from each of the study communities were interviewed to explore foods which are infrequently used now but had been used in the past.
Furthermore, dietary assessments in the form of 24-hour dietary recalls and food frequency questionnaires were conducted with mothers from the six communities; they also reported the dietary intake for their children. Lastly, qualitative exercises, such as understanding the grouping of foods through pile sorting, the exploration of the perceptions of the attributes of foods for young children and taste preferences were also conducted.
Plant specimens were prepared according to established procedures and brought to Lima for identification by Hamilton Beltran, a botanist who specializes in plants of the rain forest in the Cenepa region.
Notes on food groups
The data presented here do not represent absolute values. The information presented here was compiled at the Instituto de Investigación Nutricional in Lima with members of the Awajun community in a book entitled “Sistema Tradicional de Alimentación de Los Aguarunas Del Río Cenepa”. Scanned pages of this book are included here. The purpose of this publication is to present a true reflection of the usual composition of foods as available and/or consumed among Awajún community members. This is a living document and nutrient information will be added and/or updated when available. Traditional Awajún foods were divided into the following food groups:
- Animals (Animales)
- Birds (Chigki, Aves)
- Fish (Namak, Pescados)
- Fruits (Yujag, Frutas)
- Insects (Insectos)
- Reptiles (Reptil)
- Shellfish (Moluscos)
- Tubers (Ajak Kagkapen, Nejen Aidau, Tuberculos)
- Vegetables (Ajak Weantu, Vegetables)
Where possible, the Scientific and English names, harvest period, seasonality of use and preparation of these foods are also documented.
Notes on food components
Nutrient information is from the publication compiled by Instituto de Investigación Nutricional, ODECOFROC and the Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment (CINE) (1). There are 12 to 14 components in the main body of the tables, which are presented in a fixed format for each record. The order of presentation is based on major nutrient categories.
Vitamin A values for animals, birds, fish, insect, reptiles and shellfish are reported in retinol, µg. However, vitamin A values for fruits and vegetables are reported in “Vitamin A RE_µg” (reported “Re, µg” on the data table). These values are calculated from beta carotene, mg.
- Sistema Tradicional de Alimentación de los Aguarunas del Río Cenepa. Instituto de Investigación Nutricional and Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment (CINE). Organización de Desarrollo de las Comunidades Fronterizas de Cenepa (ODECOFROC). Photos by Peter Kuhnlein.