Strengthening national maize breeding programs

Technology transfer

This project, part of KWS’s capacity building initiative in Peru, aims at improving food security for smallholder farmers by strengthening the maize breeding programmes at national level.

Peru is a diverse country: a tropical climate prevails in the Eastern rain forests (“Selva”), while there is a dry desert climate in the West and in the coastal regions (“Costa”). The central Andes (“Sierra”) and the Andean plateau (“Altiplano”) are moderate to cold zones. This diversity is also reflected in Peruvian agricultural systems. Smallholder farmers in all parts of the country cultivate a multitude of maize and quinoa varieties. This biodiversity is at risk due to increasingly extreme climate events and migration of young people to the cities, leading to the loss of traditional know-how concerning cultivation, use and preservation of plants. As a result, there is a chronic shortage of food, especially in remote regions. A total of eight million out of 30 million Peruvians live below the poverty line.

KWS’s Capacity Building Initiative in Peru – completely financed by KWS – consists of various projects that are intended to help improve the food security of Peruvian smallholder farmers.

For one project, KWS cooperates with the maize improvement programme of the National Institute of Agricultural Innovation (INIA, Cusco) by comparing different selection methods in local, open pollinated maize populations. Another experiment has delivered new, improved acid-tolerant maize varieties for the Sierra areas.

  • Project partners include the National University of the Altiplano (UNAP, Puno) and Hohenheim University (UH). 
  • A Peruvian PhD student is also involved in the project, and is being trained in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Karl Schmid (UH).


Paul Olson:
Walter Schmidt:  

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Technology transfer
Strengthening national maize breeding programs