Potatoes climate and markets in the livelihood strategies of Altiplano communities in Bolivia
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Climate change and market uncertainties are drivers that impact on how families, and members within households, in Altiplano communities devise their livelihood strategies, based on capitals accessed and controlled, and the markets in which they are able to participate. Perceptions of risk, feelings of dread about climate changes, prices for their products, and pests affecting their crops may have an effect on the ability to develop climate resilient strategies. Adapting to Change in the Andes, a research collaboration project in the Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Collaborative Research Support Program (SANREM CRSP) is studying how climate and markets, are drivers of change in Altiplano ecosystems, through impacts on the environment and on human social systems. Two working hypotheses inform the research. The first focuses on the system drivers. On the one hand climate change, with increased variability and extreme events, has increased the risks in production and directly on livelihoods and wellbeing. On the other, rural communities in the Altiplano, have faced difficulties with markets for their products due to partial integration, and high transactions costs. The second focuses on agency, and how participatory approaches develop knowledge and skills that increase capabilities and agency to negotiate these risks, and develop strategies that reduce the risks posed by both drivers. For the strategies to be sustainable the natural capital must grow. On of the elements of this capital is the biodiversity of potatoes and other Andean tubers.