"Ancient Andean crops and farming methods are revived as Peruvians struggle to deal with the effects of climate change."
"To get to some of Peru's most remote Andean communities, you head out over pockmarked dirt roads from a small town already 10,000 feet up. Up – up – up — past llamas and alpacas and sheep and cows. The vegetation thins out and the air becomes even thinner. Your lungs clamor for oxygen and you're offered coca leaves to help adjust to the altitude.
And then, after four hypnotic hours, you've arrived – at a patch of sparse farmland near the town of Pomacocha, at 13,000 feet an outpost at pretty much the upper limits of agriculture.
For centuries, Pomacocha's thousand or so residents have grown corn in the fertile valleys below the town and potatoes on slopes that push against the sky above, fed by seasonal rains and glacial streams.
But climate change is hitting the high Andes hard. Temperature and precipitation swings are becoming more extreme, the glaciers are shrinking fast, and a tough place to farm is becoming even tougher.
So to help them deal with an uncertain future, residents are looking back in time—to before the arrival of Europeans."
Cynthia Graber reports for PRI's The Word September 9, 2011.