Traditional High Andean Cuisine: Allin Mikuy / Sumak Mikuy Cookbook
The vast geographical extension and specific soil and climate conditions of the Andes have produced an especially rich flora and fauna. In these regions, important pre-Colombian civilizations developed, whose diverse ethnic groups learned to work the land and they developed efficient agricultural systems adapted to the region's variable, and at times extreme climatic conditions. The social, economic and cultural cohesion they achieved was based on the production of a broad variety of traditional crops including tubers, roots, cereals, vegetables, fruits and the raising of animals such as guinea pigs and South American camelids.
The development of increasingly efficient production systems made possible food security and sustained population growth. Later, the gradual establishment of an Hispanic colonial structure tempered the traditional socioeconomic systems. New species of crops and animals were introduced, promoted and produced, and though this process led to the consolidation of a food production system based on introduced species, a significant range of traditional crops survived such as potatoes, oca, olluco, mashua, tarwi and quinoa, among others. Colonial society's increasing demand for food was covered in large part by taking advantage of the productive capacities of High Andean communities.
Indigenous people account for more than 30% of the population in Andean countries and 90% of them depend on traditional farming both for their livelihoods and as a direct source of food. The productive systems that they inherited from their ancestors -and which they have since jealously preserved and developed- offer important biological and technological advantages. Strengthening these systems is one of the main challenges facing those who seek to fight poverty in the region, which affects more than 80% of the population and condemns more than 45% of infants to conditions of chronic malnutrition.
Through the Project for Strengthening Indigenous Organisations and Supporting the Revival of Traditional Products in the High Andean Regions of Peru and Ecuador, FAO seeks to improve family food security by bolstering the community organisations of the region and supporting their traditional agricultural systems. Reviving traditional products and ancestral knowledge associated with national/regional cooking makes it possible to expand the food base, improve nutritional conditions and food security, and to generate additional sources of income for rural households. Without a doubt these crops are of great nutritional value, are highly adaptable to severe environmental conditions, and greatly enhance the value of family farming, especially in the case of indigenous peoples. In this context it is important to help recover and promote traditional prepared foods based on these crops, incorporate them into food assistance programmes, and develop innovative forms of consumption on a greater scale.
The cookbook High Andean Cuisine: Allin Mikuy / Sumak Mikuy is a collection of typical dishes intended to help stimulate a greater appreciation for the vast potential of traditional products and introduce them to a much wider audience. In this sense, it is a valuable resource that we are confident will help Andean countries adopt mechanisms that make it possible to improve the food and nutritional security of the farming communities in the High Andes.