T'ikapapa is a project in Peru that aims to assist Andean farmers get their products, high quality native potato varieties, more easily to new markets.
This is good for the farmer as well as the diner. After all, you can't have quality Peruvian food without quality Peruvian food products.
Because of its unique approach, T'ikapapa: A New Way to Link Andean Small Scale Farmers With New Urban Markets has been named one of ten global finalists to receive the Seed Awards 2007. The awardees will be announced in May in New York.
The Seed Awards are presented by the United Nations Environment Programme and awarded to projects worldwide that demonstrate innovative partnerships, creative strategies, and a sustainable use of natural resources. Award winners obtain a gamut of tailor-made services in order to see their projects to fruition.
In 2007, there are ten finalists for the Seed Awards. Five awards will be given. In addition to the Peruvian project, some of the other finalists include a reforestation project in Kenya, a medicinal plant project from Vietnam, and a natural dye project from India.
In the Peruvian Andes, substinence potato farmers are among the poorest; however, Peruvian potato farmers are rich in knowledge about the cultivation of a diversity of local potato varieties which they raise for sale in their local markets. T'ikipapa hopes that by opening new markets, including the gourmet potato niche market in Lima as well as urban supermarkets, farmers will be encouraged to improve and continue growing a diverse number of potato strains.
T'ikipapa will help farmers form associations in order to better access technology and market information, facilitating access for the potatoes to reach urban coastal markets. To improve the quality of the potatoes grown, standards for native potato strains will be established and environmentally friendly technologies for potato production will be promoted.
In India, a network of women slum dwellers collaborating with UK engineers and a French water company to improve water delivery; in Ecuador, a consortium of European companies working with the government and coffee farmers to keep pesticides from contaminating water supplies; and in South Africa, a small business owner working with women's cooperatives and the government to test market solar technologies in rural areas.
UNEP is the designated authority of the United Nations for environmental issues at the global and regional level.
"The Seed Awards challenges partners to pool their human, financial, and natural resources to allow them to meet goals they could not reach if they worked by themselves, a partnership idea that demonstrates that by working together, we can achieve environmental benefits, social justice, and healthy economic growth, by putting new technologies to effective use, or using traditional technologies in a new way."
Peruvian food continues to get coverage in both traditional and electronic media.
In the last few days, US newsmagazine, Newsweek, published an article about the Peruvian food boom, as did newly-launched Globorati, an online upscale travel guide that has been garnering its own bevy of press.
Newsweek's Joseph Contreras states, "During my years of traipsing around Latin America, I have always regarded Lima as one of the underrated gastronomic capitals of the hemisphere. There's nothing like unwinding at a seaside eatery in one of the Peruvian capital's outlying suburbs with a frothy pisco sour cocktail and a plate of seviche marinated in lime juice and ají peppers."
Meanwhile, the folks at Globorati: Jet Set Intelligence (love the name), posted about Lima's ceviche cognoscenti in which they summarize and link their way into the web's own cevichería. As I said, Globorati has already been mentioned in The New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, and Condé Nast Traveler.