For many of the smallholder farmers inhabiting the highland plateaus of the Venezuelan Andes, potato cultivation is a main source of income, subsistence, and pride. However, the spread of invasive potato pests across the region over the past 20 years has resulted in a concomitant rise in broad-spectrum pesticide use. While pest applications have been ineffective at reducing pest outbreaks, they impose a growing threat to farmer health as well as to the integrity of surrounding paramo ecosystems and their endemic flora and fauna. My research seeks to develop sustainable pest management approaches by focusing on two local potato production practices that are rooted in traditional shifting agriculture strategies: cultivation of the native papa negra variety and long fallow rotation. We employ participatory pest monitoring, land-use mapping, and sentinel pest experiments to determine the influence of native potato cultivation and long fallow rotation on oviposition interference and biological control levels of the tuber pest Tecia solanivora. Furthermore, we use farmer surveys, focus groups, and semi-structured interviews to understand capital asset access and vulnerability reduction among potato farmers that utilize traditional cultivation practices.
Contact Carlo Moreno by email: firstname.lastname@example.org