Agronomist Zenón Gomel Apaza , born in the Peruvian Andes in 1969, is committed to preserving the biodiversity of life. “Only through living in diversity is it possible to achieve sustainability,” says Gomel Apaza, who is convinced that the knowledge of farmers, collected and tested over generations of sowing and harvesting crops, is far superior to modern agricultural methods. For example, the dozens of varieties of potatoes grown in his own region for decades were, in the late 20th century, reduced to only a handful, putting in danger the genetic base.
He also believes that cultural heritage is the bedrock of traditional agriculture in the Peruvian Andes, and that both must be preserved.
Chosen as an Associate Laureate of the 2006 Rolex Awards, Gomel Apaza says the prize was for him an affirmation of all he believes in. It has also enabled him to promote agrodiversity among local people, protect microhabitats of native plants and lobby government organizations to safeguard plants species and cultural heritage.
Published in 2006