Feature Story

Combating food insecurity in Peru with ancestral solidarity during the COVID-19 crisis

August 8, 2020

Peruvian man crouching next to harvest
Photo: FAO

In times of crisis, it is typically rural areas that are most vulnerable to adversity, and it is often big cities that send humanitarian aid to the countryside. With the COVID-19 crisis, however, the situation has reversed. The pandemic’s mobility restrictions are disrupting food supply chains and hindering access to traditional and nutritious food in urban areas.

Family farmers, belonging to several indigenous communities in rural parts of Peru, are sending help to their relatives in the cities, reviving the tradition of Apachicuy  – “help the loved ones” in the Quechua language – an ancestral indigenous practice which ensures that whatever the hardship, family, friends and community get the support they need.

Thanks to the Apachicuy initiative, 2,856 families in major Peruvian cities such as such as Lima, Nazca, Pisco, Ica, Cañete, Tacna, Moquegua, and Arequipa have already received sustainable and nutritious food shipments. This initiative has also supported the livelihoods of indigenous farmers, who are economically affected by the pandemic and the related containment measures that prevent their produce from reaching urban markets.

The Apachicuy initiative is part of a larger project, the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) program funded by the GEF and implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, that works with indigenous family farmers to preserve agro-biodiversity in the Andean region of Peru - one of the world’s most important centers of agricultural diversity.