The Role of Amaranth in Farm Dynamics of Chuquisaca, Bolivia

The Role of Amaranth in the Changing Farm Dynamics of Chuquisaca, Bolivia and its Contribution to the Incomes of Producers

Amaranth (Amaranthus L.) is a nutritious crop, rich in varieties and adaptable to adverse agro-ecological conditions. Increased interest in the grain amaranth due to its high nutritional content has opened new markets of commercialization. In the Department of Chuquisaca, Bolivia, communities have begun to increase the area cultivated by the crop to respond to profit incentives and increased promotion of the crop by various government, commercial and institutional actors. This study aims to zoom in at the farm level to understand the current role of amaranth in production systems, what has shaped this role, and how the current role contributes to the incomes of producers.

The study was completed in 3 communities in 2 different municipalities in Central Chuquisaca; two with more recent histories of expanding production (1-2 years) and one in with a longer history of amaranth production (5 years). The study employed a number of qualitative methods to understand the agro-ecological, historical, farm management and socio-economic context in which the adoption of grain amaranth has taken place.  

Results were analyzed considering the interaction of amaranth with other crops in the production system, the livelihoods framework that sets the context for the role of amaranth, and the contribution amaranth has to the incomes of producers. Although the adoption of amaranth takes on slightly different roles in the context of the three communities, in all three, amaranth production takes place in a context of diversified systems with alternative crop substitutes. By 2013, amaranth has been integrated into production systems that face fewer limitations. Among those producing amaranth, the crop holds a secondary role both in the crop strategies and incomes, although it has the potential to take on a primary role in select production systems.

Anna Madalinska Department of Plant and Environmental Science, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark