It is clear that traditional knowledge is more important and more valued than before.
Almost 4,000 metres above sea level north of Lake Titicaca lies the harsh Altiplano of the Peruvian Andes where farmers eke out a living from the soil. Returning home to where his ancestors had tilled the fields for generations, Zenón
Porfidio Gomel Apaza realized that the modern agricultural methods he had learned studying agronomy had often produced failed crops and depleted soils, leading to poverty among the local people and undermining community life. He understood
that the severe conditions of the region called for traditional skills, which included a campaign to protect the biological diversity in local crops in order to enhance crop and grassland yields.<br><br>He has persuaded
hundreds of families in the area to broaden the genetic variety of their crops rather than resort to chemicals and technology. More recently, he has taken his research into traditional agriculture even further as head of a regional
agricultural agency in south-eastern Peru. Gomel Apaza also understands the importance of a clearly defined communication strategy and reaches thousands of people in Puno via a radio programme. Thanks to his Rolex-sponsored project,
he has been able to help develop a legislative initiative recognizing the role of traditional authorities as caretakers of agro-biodiversity.