WHO WE ARE SERVICES RESOURCES




Most recent stories ›
AgroInsight RSS feed
Blog

Honest farming November 19th, 2017 by

Vea la versi√≥n en espa√Īol a continuaci√≥n.

You can’t teach a skill that you don’t practice, yet many agricultural scientists try to do just that, lecturing at universities or writing extension messages without spending time a farm. So I was pleased this week to meet a scientist who was getting on-farm experience, and loving it.

My wife Ana and I met Dr. Alberto Centellas on the small farm, about a hectare, which he works with a business partner in the Cochabamba Valley, here in Bolivia. We heard that he sold fruit tree seedlings, and we went to buy some. I had barely closed the farm gate when Dr. Centellas walked up to me, wearing a grin and a straw hat. Without waiting for introductions, Dr. Centellas (‚Äúcall me Alberto‚ÄĚ) began to show us his projects, passionately explaining each one.

Dr. Centellas is Bolivian, but he earned his Ph.D. in Brazil, in temperate fruit production. Then he worked for Embrapa, the Brazilian agricultural research agency, for eight years, followed by another stint at Proinpa, an agricultural research organization in Bolivia. Now he teaches fruticulture at the university in Cochabamba. Teaching and administration don’t always leave much time to spend in the greenhouse, so to hone his agricultural skills, Alberto works on the farm every Saturday.

He had planted new varieties of apples from Brazil, bred to yield fruit in warm climates. After just two years the little trees were head-high. The orchard was enclosed in a large net to keep out the birds. ‚ÄúWe won‚Äôt harvest anything if we let in the birds.‚ÄĚ

The Tahiti lemon trees were full of bright, round green fruits the size of walnuts. ‚ÄúThese are seedless. You can just wash them and drop them whole in the blender, rind and all. They are perfect for mixing with cacha√ßa (the Brazilian cane liquor).‚ÄĚ

Besides lemon and apple trees, he also has a collection of pears, avocados, peaches and cherimoyas.

Like a lot of researchers, Dr. Centellas is regularly invited to conferences in other countries. But he uses his trips as more than talking shops. He also collects tree varieties. ‚ÄúBut only from research centers,‚ÄĚ he hastens to add. He gets new tree varieties from reliable sources where the trees are certified and guaranteed to be healthy.

The farm is also a serious business, called Tecnoplant, and it is state of the art. Avocado tree seedlings are expertly grafted and growing in the protected cover of a tidy greenhouse. Other trees have been planted in a small orchard.

Avocados are tricky. Unlike many trees, each variety belongs to one of several pollination groups, including A, B and AB. They yield more if the varieties are grown in mixed groves. Dr. Centellas has carefully set out one row of the variety Fuerte, and one of the variety Lamb Hass. The little trees are watered with drip irrigation and growing under plastic mulch, to keep out the weeds. This is cutting edge tree culture.

I ask Dr. Centellas what motivates him to invest so much time and effort in the farm. I thought he might say something about boosting commercial fruit production, or contributing to agricultural development, but I was pleasantly surprised when he said ‚ÄúI was teaching other people how to farm, and then I got tired of them asking me how many trees I had on my own farm. And I would have to answer that I had none.‚ÄĚ

It is more honest to teach techniques that one actually practices. Farming helps Dr. Centellas to understand the real problems that farmers face, making him a better teacher.

Related blog story

Head transplant: The art of avocado grafting

EL AGRO HONESTO

por Jeff Bentley

No se puede ense√Īar una habilidad que uno no practica, aunque muchos cient√≠ficos agr√≠colas tratan de hacer eso, dando clases en las universidades o escribiendo mensajes de extensi√≥n sin pisar tierra agr√≠cola. Entonces me dio gusto esta semana conocer a un cient√≠fico que s√≠ ganaba experiencia agr√≠cola, y le encantaba.

Con mi esposa Ana, conocimos al Dr. Alberto Centellas en la peque√Īa finca, tal vez una hect√°rea, que √©l trabaja con un socio en el Valle de Cochabamba, aqu√≠ en Bolivia. Hab√≠amos escuchado que √©l vend√≠a plantines de frutales, y fuimos a comprar. Yo apenas hab√≠a cerrado el port√≥n cuando el Dr. Centellas se me acerc√≥, con una sonrisa y su sombrero de paja. Sin esperar que nos present√°ramos, el Dr. Centellas (‚Äúll√°meme Alberto‚ÄĚ) empez√≥ a mostrarnos sus proyectos, explicando cada uno con pasi√≥n.

El Dr. Centellas es boliviano, pero gan√≥ su doctorado en el Brasil, en la fruticultura de climas templados. Luego trabaj√≥ para Embrapa, la agencia de investigaci√≥n agr√≠cola brasile√Īa, por ocho a√Īos, seguido por un tiempo en Proinpa, una organizaci√≥n de investigaci√≥n agr√≠cola en Bolivia. Ahora ense√Īa fruticultura en la universidad en Cochabamba. La docencia y la administraci√≥n no siempre dejan mucho tiempo para estar en el invernadero, as√≠ que, para pulir sus habilidades agr√≠colas, Alberto trabaja en la finca todos los s√°bados.

Hab√≠a plantado nuevas variedades de manzanos del Brasil, mejorados para dar fruta en climas calientes. Despu√©s de solo dos a√Īos los arbolitos estaban a la altura de unapersona. El huerto se encubr√≠a de una gran red contra los p√°jaros. ‚ÄúNo cosecharemos nada si dejamos entrar a los p√°jaros.‚ÄĚ

El limonero Tahit√≠ estaba lleno de brillantes frutos redondos y verdes, del tama√Īo de una nuez. ¬†‚ÄúNo tienen semilla. Se los puede lavar y echarlos enteros al licuador, con todo y c√°scara. Son perfectos para mezclar con cachaza (licor de ca√Īa brasile√Īo).‚ÄĚ

Además de limoneros y manzanos, él también tiene una colección de peros, paltos, durazneros y chirimoyas.

Como muchos investigadores, el Dr. Centellas es invitado frecuentemente a conferencias en otros pa√≠ses. Sin embargo, se aprovecha de sus viajes para hacer m√°s que intercambiar informaci√≥n. Tambi√©n recolecta variedades de √°rboles. ‚ÄúPero solo de los centros de investigaci√≥n,‚ÄĚ aclara. Recibe nuevas variedades de frutales de fuentes confiables, donde los arbolitos son certificados y garantizados de estar sanos.

La finca tambi√©n es una empresa formal, llamada Tecnoplant, y es tecnolog√≠a actualizada. Los plantines de palto est√°n expertamente injertados y creciendo bajo la protecci√≥n de un invernadero ordenado. Otros √°rboles se han plantado en un peque√Īo huerto.

El palto tiene sus ma√Īas. A cambio de muchos otros √°rboles, cada variedad pertenece a uno de varios grupos de polinizaci√≥n, como el A, B y el AB. Rinden m√°s si las variedades se cultivan en huertos mezclados. El Dr. Centellas ha cuidadosamente plantado un surco de la variedad Fuerte, y una de la variedad Lamb Hass. Los arbolitos se riegan por goteo y crecen bajo un mulch de pl√°stico, para que no crezcan las malezas. Es lo √ļltimo en la fruticultura.

Le pregunto al Dr. Centellas qu√© le motiva invertir tanto tiempo y esfuerzo en la finca. Pens√© que dir√≠a algo sobre promover la fruticultura comercial, o contribuir al desarrollo agr√≠cola, pero era una grata sorpresa cuando dijo ‚ÄúYo ense√Īaba a la otra gente c√≥mo ten√≠an que producir ellos, y me aburr√≠ de que me preguntaban cu√°ntos √°rboles ten√≠a yo en mi finca. Y yo ten√≠a que responder que no ten√≠a nada.‚ÄĚ

Es m√°s honesto ense√Īar las t√©cnicas que uno realmente practica. El trabajar con sus √°rboles ayuda al Dr. Centellas a entender los problemas reales que enfrentan a los agricultores, y por eso es un mejor profesor.

Artículo relacionado del blog

Head transplant: The art of avocado grafting

 

Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

A connecting business October 29th, 2017 by

More people than ever before are now connected to electricity and digital communication in tropical countries. Progress is slower in the countryside though high demand from rural customers is driving new efforts to give farmers the connectivity they crave.

Rural electrification has been high on the agenda of development aid for decades. Although significant progress has been made, donors, policy-makers and rural people alike have come to realize that connecting remote areas to the grid is more challenging than many had once assumed. The poor often lose out on electricity, which most people now consider a basic service. But if necesity is the mother of invention, as the old saying goes, then the father of invention must be a new idea, as Jeff wrote in one of his inspiring publications in 2000. New technologies are giving rural people plenty of fresh ideas to experiment with.

New modes of communication and businesses have popped up to help the poor access the web and related services. Mobile phones have penetrated rural areas at an unexpectedly fast rate, even in villages off the grid. Two years ago, when making a series of videos on ‚ÄúMilk as a business‚ÄĚ with pastoralist Fulani herders in Nigeria, I was amazed to see 13-year old Yussuf run a mobile phone charging business under a tree near one of the milk collection centres. Solar pannels provided Yussuf with electricity. When I asked him how he could remember which phone belonged to who, he smiled and showed me the name of each owner written on a little piece of masking tape he had stuck on the back of each phone. ‚ÄúI went to the madrassa and learned to write in Arabic.‚ÄĚ In madrassas, Islamic religious schools, children learn Arabic, so they can read the Koran. When the dairy company installed a milk collection centre for the Fulani herders, Yussuf realised that the transporters who collect milk on motor bikes needed to have their phones regularly charged.

In countries such as India and Bangladesh with high population densities and lots of potential customers, local ICT-savvy entrepreneurs have developed popular apps to help farmers monitor real-time market prices and weather forecasts on their mobile phones.

Last week, Ahmad Salahuddin, of Access Agriculture, and I met with some 20 farmer seed producers in Jessore, Bangladesh, to introduce them to the free services offered by Access Agriculture. By the end of our presentation, three of these farmers had already started watching some of the training videos on the website, and one had registered to download videos. When Salahuddin asked how they could share the videos with other farmers, many said via ‚ÄúShare it‚ÄĚ, a popular app to transfer videos from one phone to another.

Fernando Soussa, a Swiss researcher, and colleagues interviewed 460 farmers in Mali and Burkina Faso about their use of mobile phones. They found that many villagers, including young women who had until recently had limited access to information services, were now using 3G mobile phones with Bluetooth to watch videos.

Videos on mobile phones help to reach illiterate farmers, so new business ventures are more likely to emerge as it gets easier to watch videos and as good farmer training videos become increasingly available. Entrepreneurs typically innovate when new products like cell phones meet old demands for information, to create new market potential. Farmers increasingly want audio-visual information, and businesses will play a role to make this happen, for example selling inexpensive smart phones and charging phones for customers off the grid.  When my colleagues and I started placing farmer learning videos on the Access Agriculture platform, few farmers had access to computers or the internet. We thought that farmers would have to go through extensionists to watch the videos. But in a few short years, farmers in remote corners of the world have started buying smart phones, and eagerly getting on line themselves.

Read more

Bentley, J. (2000) The mothers, fathers and midwives of invention: Zamorano’s natural pest control course. In G. Stoll (ed.) Natural Crop Protection in the Tropics: Letting Information Come to Life (pp. 281-289). Agrecol, ICTA, MArgraf Verlag.

Sousa, F., Nicolay, G. and Home, R. (2016) Information technologies as a tool for agricultural extension and farmer-to-farmer exchange: Mobile-phone video use in Mali and Burkina Faso. The International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology 12(3), 19-36. Download article.

Related blogs

Can I make some extra money?

Lost at sea

More than a mobile

Trust that works

Turning dumb phones into good teachers

Village smart phones

When a number matters

Further viewing

Taking milk to the collection centre

Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

High in the Arctic September 10th, 2017 by

A large supermarket in Anchorage displays an impressive selection of fruit and vegetables, including organic produce. Unsurprisingly, most of the goods on sale are grown outside Alaska. Farming this far north is challenging, with only a short growing season, unpredictable weather and moderate temperatures. Local initiatives such as the ‚ÄúAlaska Grown‚ÄĚ campaign, are encouraging people to develop new agri-businesses. You have to be enterprising to succeed, as I recently discovered.

A popular option is to grow salad crops and soft fruits in high tunnels. Tough polyethylene sheeting is draped over sturdy metal frames, protecting the plants within. Peonies, popular at weddings because of their showy, robust flowers, are also grown. They flourish in Alaska during the summer, which is off-season in the lower 48 states, when it is too hot to grow peonies yet high season for weddings in the US.

Rhodiola, a native medicinal plant and member of the botanical family Crassulacaea, is another commercial success. But the most unexpected crop I came across was cannabis, legal in Alaska since 2014. Some is grown outside in high tunnels, but it is so profitable that many growers have invested in custom-built indoor facilities. Plants are regularly fed and watered using a hydroponic system. Artificial lighting ensures year-round production, whatever the weather outside.

A family friend introduced me to Bruce and Judy Martin on the Kenai Peninsula, who are part of the first wave of cannabis growers. Bruce worked in construction for many years and wanted a change. He originally designed a building to service boats during the winter. Fishing is big business in Alaska, both commercially and for visiting tourists, and the boats need regular maintenance. Bruce’s plan started well, but when a major contract collapsed he and Judy decided to move into cannabis growing.

A kilo of cannabis buds will earn Bruce and Judy between $2500 and $6000 a pound, or around ¬£4500 – ¬£10,000 per kilo, depending on quality. Bruce explained the set up: ‚ÄúWe have a total growing area of 2,000 square feet (185 square metres), covering two rooms. In the first room, we take cuttings from the mother plants and suspend them in large tanks, where water and nutrients are regularly sprayed to encourage root development. After about three weeks they are moved to larger pots before being transferred a further three weeks later to the main production facility.‚ÄĚ

Although Alaska legalised cannabis growing for medicinal and recreational use and sale in 2015, it wasn‚Äôt until 2016 that the legal framework was fully in place for producers to start supplying licensed outlets. Bruce and Judy harvested their first crop in December 2016 and¬†have been regularly producing around ten kilograms per month of buds and leaves. The leaves are less valuable than the buds (around $1500 per kilogram) because they have lower amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound for which cannabis is renowned. Bruce explained that there was still a steady demand for leaves to produce ‚Äúedibles‚ÄĚ, which the Alaska Division of Public Health describes as ‚Äúfoods and drinks ‚Ķ made with marijuana or marijuana oils‚ÄĚ, such as ‚Äúcookies and other treats‚ÄĚ.

Growing cannabis even on a modest scale requires major investment. ‚ÄúIt cost us around half a million dollars to set up the production facility‚ÄĚ said Bruce. Judy mentioned the many certificates they‚Äôd had to get before being allowed to start selling and the need to test cannabis batches for potency. ‚ÄúTesting is mandatory and costs us $2000 each month,‚ÄĚ said Judy. Plus, Bruce and Judy lose two kilograms of product required for the tests. Costs are high, regulation is intense and official monitoring of operations is relentless. A monitor shows feeds from multiple security cameras, keeping a watchful eye on what happens outside the building and all nooks and crannies within.

I have mixed feelings about commercial cannabis growing for recreational use, but the more I look at the overall trade the more it makes sense. Regulating cannabis reduces criminality, safeguards consumers against adulterated products and also creates jobs. And there are significant numbers of people using cannabis for medicinal reasons, where there are proven benefits. The US’s experience with Prohibition (of alcohol) shows that an outright ban doesn’t work: better to regulate, educate and normalise consumption while advising people of potential and harmful side-effects. It is surely much better to treat adults in a mature way when it comes to cannabis, as clearly shown by the Alaska Division of Public Health.

Alaska has already earned around $2 million in taxes from growers and shops. In a neat political move, Bruce told me that ‚Äúcannabis taxes on the Kenai Peninsula go straight to supporting schools.‚ÄĚ Despite the long and successful campaign to legalise cannabis in Alaska there is already a ballot measure to repeal the 2014 decision, due to be voted on by all registered voters in October 2017. There are still diehards who see cannabis use, even for medicinal purposes, as sinful and leading inevitably to harder drugs, but the evidence for this happening is weak. Maybe the loss of funding for schools ‚Äď which were facing major budget cuts ‚Äď will help swing the vote and maintain the hard-won status quo.

The intense regulation of cannabis in Alaska suggests that the state is itself equivocal about legalisation, though the main reason for the tight scrutiny is because the US federal government still prohibits the ‚Äúuse, sale and possession of all forms of cannabis‚ÄĚ. Banks are nervous about handling money associated with the trade and all transactions are in cash. Cannabis growers cannot ask for advice from cooperative extension staff, since they are partly funded by the Federal government.

This doesn’t seem to matter, since Bruce and Judy get advice from fellow growers nearby and there is an active online community buzzing with information about all aspects of cannabis production. I admire their hard work and commitment. Bruce and Judy have taken a calculated risk in becoming cannabis growers, but so far, their hard work and diligence has paid off. They’re also bringing a little cheer to fellow Alaskans.

Thanks to
Richard and Linn especially, for making the visit possible. And to Bruce and Judy for their warm  welcome and open discussions.

Read other blogs
Ethical agriculture

The ruffled reefer

Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

The joy of business July 16th, 2017 by

Vea la versi√≥n en espa√Īol a continuaci√≥n

On the 29th of June in Cochabamba, I watched as 39 farmers’ associations met with 183 businesses, in a large, rented ballroom, where tables just big enough for four were covered in white tablecloths and arranged in a systematic grid pattern.

cacao y árbolesAll day long the farmers and entrepreneurs huddled together, in 25-minute meetings, scheduled one after the other, for as many as 15 meetings during the day, as the farmers explained the virtues of products like aged cheeses, shade-grown cacao, and bottled mango sweetened with yacón (an Andean tuber). Some businesses had come to buy these products, but others were there to sell the farmers two-wheeled tractors and other small machines.

mango en alímbar de yacónEach association or business had filled out a sheet listing their interests and products. The organizer used computerized software to match up groups by interest, and set a time for the meetings. The time was tracked by a large, computerized clock, projected onto the wall.

At the end of each of the 25 minute meetings, each table filled out a one-page form stating if they had agreed to meet for another business deal (yes, no, maybe), and if so when (within three months, or later), and the amount of the probable deal. By the end of the day, the farmers and the business people had agreed to do business worth 56 million bolivianos, equivalent to $8.2 million.

Business representatives came from five foreign countries: Belgium, Peru, the Netherlands, Spain, and Argentina, to buy peanuts and other commodities. But most of the buyers and sellers were from Bolivia and only 6% of the trade was for export.

The meeting was self-financed. Each farmer’s group paid $45 to attend and each entrepreneur paid $50. This is the ninth annual agro-business roundtable, so it looks like an institution that may last.

Business is a two-way street. For example, one innovative producer of fish sausages made deals to sell his fine products to hotels and supermarkets, but he also agreed to buy a machine to vacuum pack smoked fish, and another deal to buy trout from a farmers’ association.

la boletaWith over 400 people lost in happy conversation on the ballroom floor, I barely noticed the three staff-members on the side, sitting quietly at a table, typing up each sheet from each deal, using special software which allows the statistics to be compiled in real time. This will also help with follow-up. Two months after the roundtable, professionals from Fundaci√≥n Valles will ring up the group representatives with a friendly reminder: ‚ÄúYou are near the three month mark when you agreed to meet and buy or sell (a given product). How is that coming?‚ÄĚ

Miguel Florido, facilitator, explained that in previous years the roundtable brought in $14 million in business, but that was mostly with banks and insurance companies, signing big credit deals, or insurance policies. Now the money amount has dropped a bit, but people are buying and selling tangible, local products, which is what the farmers want. It can be difficult and time-consuming for smallholders and entrepreneurs to meet each other, but with imaginative solutions buyers and sellers can connect.

Acknowledgment: this roundtable was organized by Fundación Valles and Fundesnap.

LA ALEGR√ćA DEL NEGOCIO

El 29 de junio en Cochabamba, observ√© mientras 39 asociaciones de agricultores se reunieron con 183 empresas en un sal√≥n de eventos, lleno de mesas que eran el tama√Īo perfecto para cuatro personas.

cacao y √°rbolesTodo el d√≠a los agricultores y empresarios se juntaron, en reuniones de 25 minutos, hasta 15 reuniones durante el d√≠a, donde los productores explicaban las bondades de productos como quesos a√Īejos, cacao producido bajo sombra, y frascos de mango endulzados con yac√≥n (un tub√©rculo andino). Algunas empresas vinieron para comprar esos productos, mientras otros estaban en plan de vender motocultores y otras peque√Īas m√°quinas a los agricultores.

mango en al√≠mbar de yac√≥nCada asociaci√≥n o empresa hab√≠a llenado una hoja detallando sus intereses y sus productos. El organizador us√≥ software computarizado para juntar los grupos seg√ļn sus intereses y fijar una hora para sus reuniones. La hora se controlaba con un reloj grande y computarizado que se proyectaba a la pared.

Al final de cada una de las reuniones de 25 minutos, cada mesa llenaba un formulario indicando si habían quedado en volver a reunirse para hacer negocios (sí, no, tal vez), y cuándo (dentro de tres meses, o más tarde), y el monto probable del trato. Al fin del día, salió que los agricultores y las empresas habían fijado tratos por un valor de 56 millones bolivianos, equivalente a $8.2 millones.

Asistieron empresas de cinco pa√≠ses extranjeros: B√©lgica, Per√ļ, Holanda, Espa√Īa, y la Argentina, para comprar man√≠ y otros productos. Pero la mayor√≠a de los vendedores y compradores eran bolivianos y solo 6% de la venta era para exportar.

La reunión era auto-financiada. Cada asociación de agricultores pagó $45 para asistir y cada empresa pagó $50. Esta es la novena rueda anual de agro-negocios, así que parece que es una institución duradera.

El negocio es una calle de dos sentidos. Por ejemplo, un productor innovador de chorizos de pescado quedó en vender sus finos productos a hoteles y supermercados, pero también compró una máquina para embalar su pescado ahumado al vacío, e hizo un acuerdo para comprar trucha de una asociación de productores.

la boletaCon m√°s de 400 personas felices, bien metidas en charlas en el sal√≥n, pasan desapercibidos tres miembros del equipo a un lado, sentados en una mesa, pasando a m√°quina las hojas escritas a mano en cada una de las reuniones. Las tres personas usan un software especial que permite compilar las estad√≠sticas ese rato. Los datos ayudar√°n con el seguimiento. Dos meses despu√©s de la rueda, profesionales de Fundaci√≥n Valles llamar√°n a los representantes de los grupos para hacerles recuerdo: ‚ÄúYa casi son tres meses desde que quedaron en volver a reunirse para comprar (o vender) su producto ¬Ņc√≥mo van con eso?‚ÄĚ

Miguel Florido, facilitador, explica que en los a√Īos previos, la rueda trajo hasta $14 millones en negocios, pero mayormente con bancos y aseguradoras, firmando contratos para cr√©ditos o seguros. Actualmente se mueve un poco menos de dinero, pero la gente vende y compra productos tangibles, locales, que es lo que los agricultores quieren.

Agradecimiento: La rueda de agro-negocios se organizó por Fundación Valles y Fundesnap.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

Five heads think better than one July 9th, 2017 by

Vea la versi√≥n en espa√Īol a continuaci√≥n

Innovation fairs are becoming a popular way to showcase agricultural invention, and to link some original thinkers with a wider community.

On the 28th of June I was at an innovation fair in Cochabamba, held in a ballroom that is usually rented for weddings and big parties, but with some tweaking it was a fine space for farmers and researchers to meet. Each organization had a table where they could set out products or samples, with their posters displayed behind the presenters.

For example, at one table, I met a dignified, white-haired agronomist, Gonzalo Zalles who explained his work with ‚Äúdeep beds‚ÄĚ for raising healthy, odorless pigs. I told Mr. Zalles about some pigs I had seen in Uganda (Smelling is believing), but Eng. Zalles explained that he makes a slightly more sophisticated bed. He starts by digging a pit, then adding a thin layer of lime to the base, followed by a layer of sand. In Uganda, some innovative farmers raise pigs on wood shavings, but Zalles uses rice husks as the final layer. He says they are more absorbent than wood shavings.

I asked if he added Effective Microorganisms (a trademarked brand of yeast and other microbes that are used widely, not just in Uganda, but also to make bokashi fertilizer in Nepal, see The bokashi factory). But no, in Bolivia, swine farmers are using a mix of bacteria and yeast called BioBull, which is made by Biotop, a subsidiary of the Proinpa Foundation in Cochabamba.

José Olivera CamachoAt a nearby stall I caught up with José Olivera of Biotop who was displaying not just BioBull, but other biological products as well, including insecticides and fungicides for organic agriculture. José travels all over the Bolivian Altiplano selling these novel inputs to farmers. He may soon have another product to sell, if research goes to plan at the Panaseri Company, in Cochabamba. Panaseri collaborates with Proinpa to produce food products from the lupine bean, packaged for supermarkets under the brand Tarwix.  At the Panaseri stand, Norka Ojeda, a Proinpa communicator, explained that the Tarwix factory buys lupine beans (tarwi) from farmers and washes out the poisonous alkaloids, rendering the nutritious tarwi safe to eat. (Read more about lupines at Crop with an attitude).

tarwixThe people at Panaseri originally disposed of the alkaloids without any treatment. But they became concerned about the environmental impact, so they installed filters at their plant to remove the toxins from the water. Now researchers at Biotop are studying the possibility of using the alkaloids as ingredients in new botanical insecticides.

Linking researchers to farmers’ associations and companies seems to be bearing fruit. Raising swine without the bad smell is crucial for keeping livestock near cities, where it is easy to get supplies and the market for the final product is nearby. Inventing new bio-pesticides is key to keeping chemical poisons out of our food.  Many heads think better than one.

Acknowledgements

The innovation fair was hosted by Fundación Valles, Fundesnap and other partners of the Fondo de Innovación on 28 June 2017, with funding from Danida (Danish Aid).

Further viewing

Watch a video on tarwi here.

CINCO CABEZAS PIENSAN MEJOR QUE UNA

Las ferias de innovación se están volviendo una manera popular de mostrar la invención agrícola, y para organizar a algunas personas creativas en una comunidad mayor.

El 28 de junio asist√≠ a una feria de innovaci√≥n en Cochabamba, en un sal√≥n de eventos que normalmente se alquila para bodas y quincea√Īeras, pero con algunos ajustes sirvi√≥ perfectamente para el encuentro de agricultores e investigadores. Cada organizaci√≥n ten√≠a una mesa donde pod√≠an mostrar sus productos o muestras, con sus p√≥steres a la vista detr√°s de los interesados.

Por ejemplo, en una mesa conoc√≠ a un destacado agr√≥nomo con una cabellera blanca, Gonzalo Zalles quien explic√≥ su trabajo con ‚Äúcamas profundas‚ÄĚ para criar a chanchos sanos sin olores. Le cont√© al Ing. Zalles de los cerdos que yo hab√≠a visto en Uganda (Smelling is believing), pero √©l explic√≥ que √©l hace una cama un poco m√°s sofisticada. Empieza cavando una fosa, agregando una capa de cal y una de arena. En Uganda, Algunos agricultores innovadores cr√≠an a los cerdos en aserr√≠n, pero el Ing. Zalles usa c√°scara de arroz como la √ļltima capa. √Čl dice que es m√°s absorbente que el aserr√≠n.

Le pregunté si él agregaba los Microorganismos Efectivos (una marca registrada de levadura con otros microbios que se usa ampliamente, no solo en Uganda, sino también para hacer fertilizante tipo bokashi en Nepal, vea The bokashi factory). Pero no, en Bolivia, los porcicultores usan una mezcla de bacteria con levadura llamada BioBull, un producto de Biotop, que es un subsidiario de la Fundación Proinpa en José Olivera CamachoCochabamba.

En otra mesa encontr√© a Jos√© Olivera de Biotop quien mostraba no solo el BioBull, sino otros productos biol√≥gicos, incluso insecticidas y fungicidas para la agricultura org√°nica. Jos√© viaja por todo el Altiplano boliviano vendiendo esos insumos novedosos a los agricultores. √Čl pronto tendr√° otro producto para vender, si la investigaci√≥n va bien con la compa√Ī√≠a Panaseri, en Cochabamba. Panaseri colabora con Proinpa para producir empaquetar tarwi (lupino) para supermercados, bajo la marca Tarwix.¬† En el stand de Panaseri, Norka Ojeda, comunicadora de Proinpa, explic√≥ que la f√°brica de Tarwix compra tarwi de los productores y lava los venenosos alcaloides, para que el nutritivo tarwi sea sano para comer. (Lea m√°s sobre el tarwi aqu√≠: Cultivo con car√°cter fuerte).

tarwixLa fábrica de Panaseri tiene que descartar los alcaloides, pero la empresa se cuestionó del impacto ambiental, así que instalaron filtros en su planta para quitar las toxinas del agua. Ahora los investigadores de Biotop están estudiando la posibilidad de usar los alcaloides como ingredientes en nuevos insecticidas botánicos.

Vincular los investigadores con asociaciones de productores y empresas parece dar fruto. Criar cerdos sin malos olores es crucial para la porcicultura cerca de las ciudades, donde es conveniente comprar la comida de los cerdos y vender los productos finales. El invento de nuevos bio-plaguicidas es clave para evitar de envenenar nuestra comida. Sí parece que varias cabezas piensan mejor que una sola.

Agradecimientos

La Feria de Innovación fue auspiciada por la Fundación Valles, Fundesnap y otros socios del Fondo de Innovación el 28 de junio del 2017, con financiamiento de Danida (Ayuda Danesa).

Para ver m√°s

Vea el video sobre tarwi aquí.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

Design by Olean webdesign