Zenón Gomel Apaza

2006 Associate Laureate, Environment
Peru, Born 1969


Project Goal

Transform Andean communities through traditional agriculture

Location: Peru

Peruvian agronomist Zenón Gomel Apaza believes that preserving biodiversity is the only path to sustainability, and favours time-tested farming techniques over modern agricultural methods.

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.

Other 2006 Associate Laureates