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Research Themes

Theme 1. Nutrition and health

The objectives are: to characterize food intake by native potato production communities in Nariño; to improve nutrition through consumption of improved potato and community recipes. An in-depth study will be conducted on dietary intake and household consumption pattern using a Dietary Recall 24 hour method. This method has been used in the Colombian Survey of Food Security 2005 and 2010. It was simplified and standardized in the Study of Quality of the Diet where the objective was to establish the reproducibility of outcomes on FSN, based on the usual consumption of energy and nutrients by all household members, based on repeated reminders of food consumption in the last 24 hours. This study will be supplemented with a qualitative component from a descriptive study of the recovery of traditional gastronomic memory of indigenous people linked to this research.

Theme 2. Potato breeding

The objectives are: to evaluate 200 clonal collections of UNC, including genotypes from indigenous communities, in several locations, for yield, nutrition and disease resistance; to evaluate five selected clones under community fields – participatory research. A total of 200 potato genotypes will be grown at the experimental station in Obonuco Nariño and evaluated for agronomic qualities. From this a subset of 80 clones, including 30 advanced clones of UNC, 30 cultivars with good traits selected from those cultivated by indigenous communities, and 20 genotypes from CIP selected for good nutritional qualities and late blight, will go through a more extensive trait selection process. A set of best 12 advanced clones, with yellow flesh, of UNC will be tested for community adoption. These genotypes will be characterized for agronomic traits, late blight resistance and community acceptance for organoleptic and nutritional qualities. The best three genotypes with yellow flesh will be registered and seeds will be distributed to the community.

Theme 3. Nutrients and functional food in potato

The objectives are: to determine nutritional and functional composition of advanced breeding lines of UNC; to determine bioavailability of potato nutrients in one of the genotypes. One hundred sixty accessions from Colombian germplasm will be grown in Obonuco experimental station in Nariño and/or in the greenhouse of UNC and 40 accessions from CIP germplasm will be grown in CIP’s Huancayo experimental station in 2 seasons. The agronomic qualities, minerals, nutrients and bioactive non-nutrients, and a subset for functional foods will be determined. The best (3 to 4) of these genotypes will be tested further under community conditions and released to indigenous communities. A manual on good dietary practices (GDP) will be developed.

Theme 4. Resistance to late blight of potato

The objectives are: to discover genes for qualitative resistance in diploid potato against late blight stress; to introduce them to community or to transfer the genes to elite cultivars. The potato growing region of Nariño is cool and a rise in temperature may increase the epidemic build-up of late blight, harbor more virulent races of P. infestans or increase other plant pathogens. Metabolomics and genomics tools will be used to discover quantitative resistance genes in potato against late blight. These genes can be transferred to elite cultivars through cisgenics (gene transfer between sexually compatible genotypes).

Theme 5. Educational programs

The objectives are: to breed potato and formulate new foods (soups) through participatory research; to develop a Good Agricultural Practice manual and use this and nutritional manual to educate the community; to train them on agribusiness. In order to establish an extension program to introduce GAPs in potato cropping systems and postharvest processing, a starting point for the program regarding agricultural practices will be established.

Theme 6. Family roles and gender

The objectives are: to characterize the role of women in social organizations, agri-production, daily nutrition, family health and education. Women play a crucial role in child care and development (Consultative Group Secretariat, 1999) and so in this project a methodology to empower indigenous women in food security will be implemented.  It is estimated that almost half of the smallholder potato production in the region is carried out by women. To identify sustainable strategies to empower indigenous women as axes of FSN programs, it is necessary to fully understand the roles of women, men and family in the potato production process and their respective contribution to decisions around family food security. The Project will build capacity to identify food and nutritional issues in order generate alerts for appropriate institutional and community response, build alternative solutions, identify actions in the communities that demand the state support, use simple tools to assess the food and nutritional situation, and interact in an intelligent, informed and pertinent way with the entities responsible for FSN. The policy issues are incorporated in each of the six themes.