This report considers several groups of activities, linked within a complex environment in which flows of water, food, and other resources influence well-being of specific groups and development of the Andes region as a whole. Firstly we consider smallholder farmers. Approximately 26 million of these people from rural areas are considered poor. While many smallholder farmers depend on rural livelihoods, many more have migrated to swell the ranks of the urban poor who live in rapidly expanding cities. Urban dwellers constitute the second group – about 21 million of whom are increasing local demands on food and water in the Andes. These first two groups comprise about half of the population of the four focus countries of the BFP Andes (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru).
A third group is commercial agriculture – much of it irrigated – that occupies a relatively small proportion of the total area, but a high proportion of the more agriculturally favored areas, producing sugarcane, bananas, rice, palm, and high-value crops such as coffee, fruits, and more recently biofuels. Mining and other industrial uses (e.g., dams and hydroelectric plants, oil and gas pipelines) complete the picture. They occupy a very small area but have a disproportionate and expanding impact on rural income (employment), environmental resources (degradation), and land tenure issues (conflict between tenure and increasing concessions).
The Andes Basin Focal Project. Final Report to the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food. http://www.bfpandes.org, 86 pp.