Native Crops for Innovative and Sustainable Food Futures in Peru and Colombia (HEI-ICI PECOLO)

The Andean region is exceptionally rich in biodiversity, harbouring an important centre of domestication of global food crops, such as potato, quinoa, corn, peanut and tomato. Such biodiversity provides a great potential to re-discover nutritionally rich local varieties and utilize them to develop innovative food applications. Utilization of native plant crops provide promising solutions to address the wider sustainability goals while providing local source of nutritious food. Diversification of the local diets enables better nutrition and can contribute in food security in areas where food production is threatened by climate change. Local research and development efforts are needed in order to understand the potential of local crop varieties and to develop them as truly desirable commercial products. Development of the traditional, often complex value chains, can contribute to better income opportunities for rural agricultural households and more sustainable, effective and low-waste supply chains. In addition, the food loss and food waste, and circular economy in food systems are opportunities to build sustainable food systems.

The investments in education, research and development is the key for innovations and long-term growth. Despite the economic growth, per capita expenditure in higher education, R&D and innovations in both Colombia and Peru remain low compared to the international levels. The national strategies in both countries highlight the need to develop the local innovation environments where academia has a stronger role as a provider of the new knowledge.

HEI-ICI PECOLO project involves regional cooperation between Colombia and Peru as well as research exchanges to Finland

Capacity building efforts are targeted in specialized topics in food science, such as functional foods and nutrigenomics, food chemistry analytics and the effects of global regulatory issues in local food chains. The project will use future research methodologies as novel tools for developing the innovation environments and to assess the long-term changes and impact for the development of the society.

The project partners are University of Turku’s Finland Futures Research Centre, Functional Foods Forum and Department of Biochemistry, and Universidad el Bosque in Bogota, Colombia and Universidad Agraria la Molina in Lima, Peru.

HEI ICI PECOLO is a 2,5 year project running from the Spring 2017 to the Autumn 2019. The project is funded by Ministry for Foreign Affair of Finland through higher education institutional collaboration (HEI-ICI) instrument.




 Further information:


​Hanna Lakkala, Project Coordinator
Juha Kaskinen
Francesca Allievi
Noora Vähäkari
Finland Futures Research Centre,
University of Turku

Jaakko Korpela
Carlos Gomez
Seppo Salminen
Functional Foods Forum,
University of Turku

Jukka-Pekka Suomela
Department of Biochemistry,
University of Turku