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Andean food systems in transition: challenges, opportunities and roles of youth and women in the rural-urban digital era

Walter Meekes, Henry Juarez, Leslie Salazar, Arnoud Hameleers
Published By:
Hosted by:
International Potato Center
Webinar Link
About the webinar
Both women and youth are key actors in promoting a sustainable transition in the food systems in the Andean region.

Rural women have actively participated in the decision-making of the conservation of native varieties in order to guarantee the nutrition of family agriculture. Women’s participation is crucial in many stages of the productive cycle, including in decisions about food and health of family members. The roles and responsibilities of women have increased due to the migration of male and young people to the cities. Therefore, their contribution is key to the availability, access and quality of food for families and to reduce malnutrition that is more common in the Andean countries (chronic malnutrition and obesity).

Due to the current COVID-19 context, the roles and responsibilities of women have increased as they have to feed their families, and the social compromise they have with society to ensure the food supply. This situation complicates women position because they face limitations in terms of time, access to supplies (physically, productive and financially), access to knowledge and niche markets (that value nutritional benefits of agrobiodiversity).

At the same time, youth have become a bridge between rural and urban sectors in many aspects (food, technology, commerce, cultural, etc.) reaching wider participation at different levels of the food chain. Currently, youth also play an important role in the reduction of generation gap with the use of technology: they help adult farmers to use smart cell phones to keep contact with buyers, have access to important information, among others.

The availability and access to information and media are wide, and youth are the first in benefitting from this. Media tools, such as WhatsApp, as well as other specific platforms, are allowing different actors from food chains to communicate and respond to food requirements of the market.

In this Webinar, the International Potato Center’s Andean Initiative brings together specialists of the private sector, researchers and donors with complementary points of view in terms of new challenges, opportunities and roles of youth and women in the rural-urban-digital space in the Andean food systems in transition.

©FAO/Giuseppe Bizzarri
Focus Region:
Latin America & the Caribbean
Focus Topic:
Gender / Youth / Social Inclusion
Nutrition / Food Systems
Information Technologies
About the speakers

Walter Meekes

Founder and Director of HoPe Foundation, Holland, Peru

HoPe Holanda Perú is a non-profit civil association working since 1991 in the department of Cusco, Peru. The aim of HoPe is support people in disadvantaged situations in their private and social development, respecting and promoting cultural plurality. HoPe promotes a stimulating and emancipatory process within Andean rural communities. The communities themselves design and execute their programs in their own way and on the basis of the affirmation of their own culture. They choose their way to connect with the generally applicable society. That is why the starting point is the ‘tinkuy’ or communal meeting to reach agreements on the priorities they have based on their vision of development.

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Henry Juarez

Official in Systems and Data Management at the Systems Unit for the International Potato Center (CIP), Engineer in Agronomy with a master’s degree in phytopathology and Environmental Sciences. Candidate to PhD in Engineering and Environmental Sciences.

With 20 years of experience in development and implementing research projects in agriculture and development related with the environment, biodiversity, modeling, geographic information systems, remote sensing and climate change.

Since 2015, Mr. Juarez manages the Research Informatics Unit, RIU, leading an interdisciplinary team for software development, database management and the implementation of open access for CIP.

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Leslie Salazar

Born in the city of Oruro, Bolivia, Auditor, specialist in social projects and economic development management. Volunteer and activist on children´s rights and empowerment of Bolivian women.

For 14 years, through Grupo Santillana, Mrs. Salazar has encouraged and promoted the habit of reading in children and youth as a way to generate equal opportunities. Her efforts reached not only the main cities of Bolivia, but also rural areas. Furthermore, she worked for the international cooperation in different projects, based in social and education topics.

In 2018 Mrs. Salazar accepted the general management of the Departmental Book Chamber in La Paz, which, for the first time opened up a space for gastronomy and literature, where writers and chefs found the same opportunity to speak about identity, inheritance, knowledge and flavors. Starting from here, her career took an unexpected turn, as she engaged with the economic development of regional kitchens and gastronomy.

Currently, Mrs. Salazar is the Executive Director of the Bolivian Movement for the Integration of Gastronomy (MIGA), main articulator of gastronomic key actors throughout the country, where she leads events such as the prize to the chronicles from the kitchen, the first virtual Tambo, hackathon, among others and with her team is permanently developing innovative programs.

Is one of the faces of women that promotes the revaluation of local products, enhancing the Bolivian pride and the rescue of the ancestral flavors.

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Arnoud Hameleers

Arnoud Hameleers has always worked in the context of agriculture. He started his career as a researcher in animal nutrition in Scotland. Later, he worked in Bolivia trying to improve the educational services for this sector. Mr. Hameleers went back to Europe to work as a researcher in the dairy sector in Ireland. Since 2005, he has been working in Bolivia, in projects of rural development and agricultural development. Currently, he is the Representative for IFAD in Bolivia and Honduras.

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