WHO WE ARE SERVICES RESOURCES




Most recent stories ›
AgroInsight RSS feed
Blog

Asking the right questions August 12th, 2018 by

I once saw a quantitative survey turn to dust, literally. I was a young graduate student in Tucson, Arizona when an older anthropologist asked me if I would like to write up the results of a survey she had conducted on the city’s largely Hispanic south side. She swung open the doors to her storage shed, revealing a large, cardboard box. When the anthropologist tried to lift some of the forms out of the box, they crumbled in her fingers. Tucson’s warm, dry climate is perfect for termites, which had carved their galleries throughout the sheets of paper.

For that anthropologist, going door-to-door with her questionnaire had been the fun part of the survey. Analyzing the results and writing up the conclusions were harder. In the end the termites benefited the most from the survey.

A few years later, I found myself in northern Portugal, on a questionnaire study of smallholder farmers. I was part of a team of anthropologists and economists who designed the survey form, a straightforward task ‚Äď or so we thought at the time. But at 20 pages, the form took about two hours to fill out. To encourage farmers to take part, we said that their answers would make policy-makers more responsive to agriculture, which may not have believable.

After we surveyed six parishes in the Entre-Douro-e-Minho province I went to live in one of them, Pedralva. There I learned how much the survey had annoyed the farmers. One couple had missed their irrigation turn while answering questions. One prosperous farmer complained how long the survey took and said that: ‚ÄúThey even counted the eyes of the chickens!‚ÄĚ That was an exaggeration (we had asked how many rabbits and chickens people had) but a sign of how frustrating farmers found the lengthy, prying survey.

Even worse, the farmers mistrusted the survey’s intentions. The farmers assumed that the tax bureau would be informed of the results, so they claimed to have harvested a fraction of their real yields, inadvertently making their well-adapted farming systems appear unproductive.

Eventually I learned to write shorter, more focused surveys, and to enter the data every night on a spreadsheet. And prizes can help to take the sting out of lost time. Once in the Chapare, Bolivia my colleagues and I rewarded each farmer we interviewed with three kilos of mineral fertilizer, left over from an earlier project. They liked the gift so much that one of them took the survey twice.

Sometimes four or five questions are enough. In Bolivia I once worked with a project that gathered hundreds of farmers for three ‚Äútechnology fairs‚ÄĚ to watch other farmers demonstrate new ideas such as metal plows or fertilized quinoa. At the end we simply asked the fair goers what ideas they liked and which ones they wanted to try. The questionnaire was so short that a dozen agronomists could administer it in a few minutes. We could get feedback from some 200 farmers before breaking for lunch.

Of course times have changed. Surveys in the city or in the villages can now be entered electronically on a tablet. The questionnaires being filled out today are immune to termites, and you can send them out on-line.

But one thing remains the same. People still don’t like to answer long questionnaires. When you fill out a questionnaire in person, the respondents may be too polite to break off the interview, but with an on-line version, fatigue sets in quickly. On-line surveys yield the best results when they are short. Some respondents are willing to share more during follow-up phone calls or emails (as we have seen in previous blog stories (Families, land and videos in Northern Uganda. Watching videos to become a dairy expert, and Drip irrigation saves water in South Sudan).

Whether on-line or in-person, a few simple questions may be as revealing as a long and tedious questionnaire that tries too hard to gather information. If do you need answers to lots of questions, consider rewarding people for the time they give you.

Further reading

The results of the first Portuguese survey eventually contributed to:

Pearson, S.R., F. Avillez, J.W. Bentley, T. J. Finan, R. Fox, T. Josling, M. Langworthy, E. Monke, & S. Tangermann 1987 Portuguese Agriculture in Transition. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

My community study in Entre-Douro-e-Minho:

Bentley, Jeffery W. 1992 Today There Is No Misery: The Ethnography of Farming in Northwest Portugal. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

The short survey in the Chapare (where people received a gift of fertilizer for answering our questions) contributed to:

Bentley, Jeffery W. 2003 Desarrollo Participativo de Tecnología en el Trópico de Cochabamba. Cochabamba: Development Alternatives, Inc.

The results from the questionnaire at the technology fairs:

Bentley, Jeffery W., Graham Thiele, Rolando Oros & Claudio Velasco 2011 ‚ÄúCinderella‚Äôs Slipper: Sondeo Surveys and Technology Fairs for Gauging Demand,‚ÄĚ pp. 276-301. In Andr√© Devaux, Miguel Ordinola & Douglas Horton (eds.) Innovation for Development: The Papa Andina Experience. 418 pp. Lima: International Potato Center. Originally published in 2004 as AgREN Network Paper No. 138.

Bentley, Jeffery W., Claudio Velasco, F√©lix Rodr√≠guez, Rolando Oros, Rub√©n Botello, Morag Webb, Andr√© Devaux & Graham Thiele 2011 ‚ÄúUnspoken Demands for Farm Technology‚ÄĚ. pp. 302-324. In Andr√© Devaux, Miguel Ordinola & Douglas Horton (eds.) Innovation for Development: The Papa Andina Experience. 418 pp. Lima: International Potato Center. Originally published in 2007 in International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability 5(1): 70-84.

Predicting the weather August 5th, 2018 by

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

Most city dwellers are only interested in short term weather forecasting. Will it rain over the weekend when we plan to invite friends to a barbecue? Do I need to carry an umbrella or wear a coat tomorrow? Fortunately for urbanites, TV, radio and web-based services provide short term forecasts.

Farmers are interested in short term weather forecasting too, but also in long term predictions. Knowing what week the rains will start is crucial for deciding when to plant rain-fed crops. Knowing how much it will rain helps farmers choose whether to plant on high or low ground.

I learned this recently from Edwin Yucra, a researcher at UMSA, the public university of San Andr√©s, in La Paz. Edwin has spent years working with Andean farmers on the Bolivian Altiplano, helping them to make use of weather forecasts based on the latest scientific data. For example, not long ago, Edwin noticed that there was an unexpected rain forecast for two or three days hence. Farmers usually like rain, but not on this occasion. The farmers he works with were about to freeze-dry potatoes into chu√Īo, when dry nights are essential. To warn the farmers, Edwin didn‚Äôt have to meet with them. He let them know on social media. The farmers were able to delay making chu√Īo and save their potatoes from rotting.

Scientific weather forecasting is not particularly accurate over a whole year. This leaves farmers more or less to their own devices. One group of master Andean farmers, called the ‚Äúyapuchiris‚ÄĚ (which means ‚Äúfarmer‚ÄĚ in Aymara) is paying attention to long term weather forecasting. During the dry season, the yapuchiris notice the behavior of animals, plants or stars. For example, birds nesting on high ground are interpreted as a sign of a wet year, while low-lying nests suggest a coming drought.

The yapuchiris write down their meteorological predictions, and then painstakingly record the weather every day for the next year, to see if their forecasts are accurate. The yapuchiris use a paper form which they and their partners at PROSUCO (an NGO) have been perfecting since the early 2000s. They use a large chart called a Pachagrama. They coined this term by blending the Aymara word for earth and weather (‚Äúpacha‚ÄĚ) with the Spanish ending ‚Äú-grama‚ÄĚ (as in telegrama). The ‚ÄúEarth-gram‚ÄĚ includes 365 columns for each day of the year and rows for different kinds of weather (sun, wind, rain, hail etc.) The yapuchiris draw a dot in each row every day to add further information. For example a dot placed higher in the sun column means a sunny day and a lower dot is a cloudy day. Later the dots can be connected to draw a graph of the year‚Äôs weather.

PROSUCO is now doing a statistical study to show how well a dedicated group of 18 yapuchiris have accurately predicted weather for several years. The university tracks modern meteorology sites for short-term forecasting, while the Pachagrama validates local, long-term weather predictions. These two efforts are different, but farmers value both of them, and will use them to see what the weather will be like this week, and this year.

Read more about the yapuchiris:

Farmers produce electronic content

Inspiration from Bangladesh to Bolivia

Or about chu√Īo:

Feeding the ancient Andean state

Acknowledgement

This work with weather is funded by the McKnight Foundation’s Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP).

Photos courtesy of PROSUCO.

PREDICIENDO EL CLIMA

Por Jeff Bentley

5 de agosto del 2018

La mayor√≠a de los citadinos solo estamos interesados en el pron√≥stico del tiempo a corto plazo. ¬ŅLlover√° durante el fin de semana cuando pensamos invitar nuestros amigos a una parrillada? ¬ŅDebo llevar un paraguas o un abrigo ma√Īana? Afortunadamente para los citadinos, los servicios meteorol√≥gicos de la televisi√≥n, la radio y web hacen tales pron√≥sticos a corto plazo.

Los agricultores también están interesados en pronósticos meteorológicos a corto plazo, además de predicciones a largo plazo. Saber qué semana comenzarán las lluvias es crucial para decidir cuándo sembrar cultivos de secano. Saber cuánto va a llover ayuda a los agricultores a elegir sembrar en terreno alto o bajo.

Esto lo aprend√≠ recientemente de Edwin Yucra, investigador de UMSA, la Universidad Mayor de San Andr√©s, en La Paz. Durante a√Īos, Edwin ha trabajado con agricultores en el Altiplano boliviano, ayud√°ndolos a hacer pron√≥sticos meteorol√≥gicos, incluso con m√©todos cient√≠ficos. Por ejemplo, no hace mucho tiempo, Edwin not√≥ que hab√≠a un pron√≥stico de lluvia inesperada para dos o tres d√≠as. A los agricultores generalmente les gusta la lluvia, pero no esta vez. Estaban a punto de congelar las papas en chu√Īo, cuando las noches secas son esenciales. Para advertir a los agricultores, Edwin no ten√≠a que reunirse con ellos. √Čl les hizo saber en las redes sociales para que pudieran esperar para hacer chu√Īo y evitar que sus papas se pudran.

El pron√≥stico meteorol√≥gico cient√≠fico no es muy preciso para predicciones de un a√Īo entero, lo cual deja a los agricultores m√°s o menos a sus propios recursos. Por otro lado, un grupo de agricultores andinos, los llamados yapuchiris (que significa ‚Äúagricultor‚ÄĚ o ‚Äúagricultora en aymara), pone atenci√≥n a la predicci√≥n del tiempo a largo plazo. Durante la √©poca seca, los yapuchiris se fijan en el comportamiento de los animales, plantas o las estrellas. Por ejemplo, las aves que anidan en un terreno m√°s elevado que el normal se interpretan como se√Īal de un a√Īo lluvioso, mientras que los nidos m√°s bajos sugieren que habr√° sequ√≠a.

Los yapuchiris escriben sus predicciones meteorol√≥gicas y luego registran minuciosamente el comportamiento del tiempo todos los d√≠as durante el pr√≥ximo a√Īo, para ver si sus pron√≥sticos eran ciertos. Los yapuchiris usan un formulario en papel que ellos y sus socios en PROSUCO (una ONG) han estado perfeccionando desde principios de la d√©cada de 2000. Usan una tabla grande llamada Pachagrama. Ellos acu√Īaron este t√©rmino combinando la palabra aymara para la tierra y tiempo (“pacha”) con la terminaci√≥n “-grama”. Ese Pachagrama incluye 365 columnas para cada d√≠a del a√Īo y filas para los diferentes tipos de clima (sol, viento, lluvia, granizo, etc.). Los yapuchiris dibujan un punto en cada fila todos los d√≠as para anotar la informaci√≥n. Por ejemplo, un punto colocado m√°s arriba en la columna del sol significa un d√≠a soleado y un punto m√°s abajo es un d√≠a nublado. M√°s tarde, los puntos se pueden conectar para dibujar un gr√°fico del clima del a√Īo.

Prosuco ahora est√° haciendo un estudio estad√≠stico para ver si un grupo de 18 yapuchiris diestros ha predicho con precisi√≥n el clima durante varios a√Īos. La universidad rastrea los sitios modernos de meteorolog√≠a para el pron√≥stico a corto plazo, mientras que el Pachagrama valida las predicciones meteorol√≥gicas a largo plazo en base a observaciones ecol√≥gicas. Estos dos esfuerzos son diferentes, pero los agricultores valoran ambos y los usar√°n para ver c√≥mo ser√° el clima esta semana y este a√Īo.

Lea m√°s acerca de los yapuchiris:

Agricultores producen contenido electrónico

Inspiración de Bangladesh a Bolivia

O sobre el chu√Īo:

Feeding the ancient Andean state

Agradecimiento

Este trabajo con el clima es financiado por el Programa Colaborativo de Investigación sobre Cultivos (CCRP) de la Fundación McKnight.

Las fotos son cortesía de PROSUCO.

Learn by living July 29th, 2018 by

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

Carrasco National Park is the largest national park in Cochabamba, Bolivia. At over 6,000 square kilometers it is the size of Delaware, or twice the size of Luxembourg. It spans an impressive range of topographies, from the high Andes down to the rain forest. I was in the park recently with my family to see some of the sandstone caves. Our guide was a 15-year-old schoolboy named Samuel. We met him in the office of the accredited guides, next to the park rangers’ station.

Soon after we arrived, the ranger had sent Samuel a WhatsApp message, and he came quickly to lead the tour. Fortunately he was available, since school was on a two-week break. However, we got off to an inauspicious start. Samuel started his introduction talk in a soft, rapid mumble, like a bored student chanting a dull lesson. He seemed not to know or care what he was talking about. But first impressions were misleading, as we soon found out.

Some of my more patient family members were able to draw Samuel out. By the time he had taken us across a mountain stream in a hand-powered cable car, Samuel was explaining that the balsa tree, which gives the light wood for airplanes, is actually quite heavy when it is standing timber. He then told us about palo santo, a tree guarded by ants which clear plants from around the base of the tree and keep the branches free of epiphytes. In an earlier, crueler age, people guilty of theft and even minor crimes could be tied to the tree to be tortured by the ants which inject a white poison from the needles on their abdomen.

Samuel showed a tiny species of native, stingless bee that makes its nest inside a termite nest. The bees make a honey-colored tunnel which serves as a doorway and landing pad. The tunnel is barely visible, peeking out of the large termite nest. You have to be a patient observer, like Samuel, to notice this. I was delighted to learn about the bees that move in with the termites. I have loved these little golden bees for years, but never seen them living in termite nests.

Samuel also took us to the entrance of the cave of the oil birds. Much like bats, the birds live in caverns, fly out at night and eat the fruit of palms and trees. Later, the birds regurgitate the seeds onto the cave floor. Samuel picked up six seeds from the stream flowing from the cave. He recognized all six species by their seed, which he picked out of the muck puked out by the birds.

Samuel may not have been much of a showman, but he knew his stuff. He had grown up in the area, the son of settlers from the Andes, so he had learned much about the forest by his own observations. Samuel wants to study tourism, and keep working in the park. He taught me once again the importance of being patient and willing to learn from others. Appearances can be deceiving and one wouldn’t normally expect a shy 15 year-old to be an expert naturalist. But you can always learn something if you’re willing to listen.

The palm and tree species identified by Samuel are:

Laurel (Spanish elm) Cordia aliodora. Palta laurel (unidentified). Pachubilla or caminante (walking palm) Socratea exorrhiza. Majo (açaí) Euterpe oleracea. Tembe (peach palm) Bactris gasipaes. Ramoncilla (a palm) Trichilia pallida

Other species mentioned

The oil bird is Steatornis caripensis. The stingless bee is Melipona sp.

Acknowledgement

Thanks to Ana Gonzales for identifying the palm and tree species.

APRENDER VIVIENDO

Por Jeff Bentley

29 de julio del 2018

El Parque Nacional Carrasco es el parque nacional m√°s grande de Cochabamba, Bolivia. Con m√°s de 6.000 kil√≥metros cuadrados, tiene dos terceras el √°rea de Puerto Rico. Abarca una impresionante gama de topograf√≠as, desde los altos Andes hasta el bosque lluvioso. Estuve en el parque recientemente con mi familia para ver algunas de las cuevas de piedra arenisca. Nuestro gu√≠a era un estudiante de 15 a√Īos llamado Samuel. Lo encontramos en la oficina de los gu√≠as acreditados, al lado de la estaci√≥n de los guardaparques.

Poco despu√©s de llegar, el guardabosques le envi√≥ a Samuel un mensaje por WhatsApp, y √©l vino r√°pidamente para dirigir la gira. Afortunadamente estaba disponible, ya que el colegio estaba en un receso de dos semanas. Sin embargo, tuvimos un comienzo desfavorable. Samuel comenz√≥ su charla de introducci√≥n en un murmullo suave y r√°pido, como un estudiante aburrido cantando una lecci√≥n aburrida. Parec√≠a no saber o interesarse de lo que estaba hablando. Pero las primeras impresiones fueron enga√Īosas, como pronto descubrimos.

Algunos de mis familiares más pacientes pudieron ganar la confianza de Samuel. En el tiempo que tardó en llevarnos a través de un riachuelo en un teleférico manual, Samuel explicaba que el árbol de balsa, que da la madera liviana para aviones, en realidad es bastante pesada cuando está en pie. Luego nos contó sobre el palo santo, un árbol protegido por hormigas que limpian las plantas de alrededor de la base del árbol y mantienen las ramas libres de epífitas. En una edad anterior y más cruel, las personas culpables de robo e incluso delitos menores podían ser atadas al árbol para ser torturadas por las hormigas que inyectan un veneno blanco de las agujas en su abdomen.

Samuel mostr√≥ una peque√Īa especie de abeja nativa sin aguij√≥n que hace su nido dentro de un nido de termitas. Las abejas forman un t√ļnel de color miel que sirve como entrada y plataforma de aterrizaje. El t√ļnel es apenas visible, asom√°ndose desde el gran nido de termitas. Tienes que ser un observador paciente, como Samuel, para fijarte en esto. Yo estaba encantado de aprender sobre las abejas que viven con las termitas. Hace muchos a√Īos que amo a estas peque√Īas abejas de oro, pero nunca las he visto viviendo en nidos de termitas.

Samuel también nos llevó a la entrada de la cueva de los guácharos. Son pájaros que, igual que los murciélagos, viven en cavernas, vuelan de noche y comen fruta de palmeras y árboles. Más tarde, las aves regurgitan las semillas en el suelo de la cueva. Samuel recogió seis semillas de la quebrada que fluía de la cueva. Reconoció las seis especies por sus semillas, vomitadas por los pájaros, que recogió del lodo.

Samuel no era muy teatrero, pero sab√≠a lo que hac√≠a. √Čl hab√≠a crecido en la zona, hijo de colonos de los Andes, por lo que hab√≠a aprendido mucho sobre el bosque por sus propias observaciones. Samuel quiere estudiar turismo y seguir trabajando en el parque. √Čl me ense√Ī√≥ una vez m√°s la importancia de ser paciente y estar dispuesto a aprender de los dem√°s. Las apariencias enga√Īan y uno normalmente no esperar√≠a que un quincea√Īero t√≠mido fuera un experto naturalista. Pero siempre puedes aprender algo si est√°s dispuesto a escuchar.

Las palmeras y √°rboles identificadas por Samuel son:

Laurel Cordia aliodora. Palta laurel (no identificada). Pachubilla o caminante Socratea exorrhiza. Majo Euterpe oleracea. Tembe Bactris gasipaes. Ramoncilla Trichilia pallida.

Otras especies mencionadas 

El guácharo es Steatornis caripensis. La abejita es Melipona sp.

Agradecimiento

Gracias a Ana Gonzales por identificar las especies de palmeras y √°rboles.

 

Making a lighter dryer June 10th, 2018 by

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

Fundación Valles, an NGO in Bolivia that does agricultural research and development, has developed a peanut dryer that uses sunlight to help prevent groundnuts from developing the molds that produce deadly aflatoxins. The prototype model had an A-shaped metal frame, raised off the ground, and was covered in a special type of light yellow plastic sheeting known as agrofilm, able to withstand long exposure to sunshine. The dryer kept out water, and with air flowing in from the ends of the dryer, the peanuts could dry even on rainy days.

Two years ago, in Chuquisaca Fundación Valles worked with farmers to develop cheaper versions of the dryer, making the A-shaped frames from wooden poles, instead of metal, and began distributing large sheets of agrofilm, 2 by 12-meters, for which farmers paid $14, half the original cost. Fundación Valles encouraged the farmers to continue adapting the original design of the dryer. In May 2018 I visited some of these farmers together with agronomists Walter Fuentes and Rolando Rejas of Fundación Valles, to find out what had happened.

When Augusto Cuba, in Achiras, received the agrofilm from Fundación Valles in 2016, he did not put it to immediate use. The weather was dry during several harvests, but during the rainy days during the peanut harvest in May, 2018, don Augusto put the agrofilm to the test. He took a plastic tarp to his field and laid it on the ground. He covered it with freshly harvested groundnuts, cut the agrofilm in half, and then placed the six meter length on top.

Don Augusto ignored the basic design of the dryer. He didn’t want to go to all of the trouble of cutting poles and building the raised platform of wooden poles. His design was much simpler and portable: as he worked in the field he could remove the agrofilm when the sun came out, and put it back when it started to drizzle again. The main disadvantage, however, was that the air did not flow over the covered nuts; humidity could build up, allowing mold to develop.

The original tent-like dryer has several limitations. It is expensive, and as don Augusto pointed out to us, it is a lot of work to make one from wood. At harvest, peanuts are heavy with moisture. The pods lose about half their weight when dried. So farmers dry their peanuts in the field, and sleep there for several nights to protect the harvest from hungry animals. A solar dryer must be carried to the field, yet these may be up to an hours’ walk from home and involve climbing up and down steep slopes. Farmers who are using the original solar dryer, as designed by Fundación Valles, are those who have their fields close to home. Yet even taking a simple tarp to the harvesting site would be an improvement over drying the pods on the bare ground.

Later I had a chance to discuss don Augusto‚Äôs method for drying peanuts with Miguel Florido, an agronomist with Fundaci√≥n Valles, and with Mario Ar√°zola, the leader of APROMANI (a peanut farmers‚Äô association). They were concerned that don Augusto¬īs design would trap in too much moisture, especially if it was misty all day and the farmer never had a chance to remove the agrofilm. We agreed that a dryer had to have a few simple agronomic criteria; it had to keep out the rain, keep the groundnuts off the ground, and let air flow through.

After discussing don Augusto’s case, we agreed that a dryer also has to meet some of the farmers’ criteria: it has to be cheap, portable and able to handle large volumes of peanuts, while keeping them out of the rain.

Aflatoxin contamination is a serious problem worldwide, and while it can be addressed, inventing a simple technology is hard work. Researchers start with a problem and some ideas to solve it, like air flow and keeping peanuts dry. But it is only after offering farmers a prototype that researchers can see the farmers’ demands. For example, designing a stationary dryer helps researchers to see that farmers need a portable one. Making and using a small dryer in the field highlights the need for a larger one. These types of demands only emerge over time, as in having a long, slow conversation, but one that is worth having.

HACER UN SECADOR M√ĀS LIGERO

Por Jeff Bentley, 10 de junio del 2018

Fundación Valles, una ONG en Bolivia dedicada a la investigación y el desarrollo agrícola, ha desarrollado un secador de maní que usa la luz solar para ayudar a evitar que los maníes (cacahuates) desarrollen los mohos que producen aflatoxinas mortales. El modelo prototipo tenía un armazón de metal en forma de A, levantado del suelo, y estaba cubierto con un tipo especial de lámina de plástico amarillo claro conocida como agrofilm, capaz de soportar la exposición prolongada al sol. El secador no dejaba pasar el agua, y con el aire que entraba desde los extremos del secador, los maníes podrían secarse hasta en días lluviosos.

Hace dos a√Īos, en Chuquisaca, la Fundaci√≥n Valles trabaj√≥ con los agricultores para desarrollar versiones m√°s baratas del secador, haciendo los marcos en forma de A de postes de madera, en lugar de metal, y comenz√≥ a distribuir grandes l√°minas de agrofilm, de 2 por 12 metros, para lo cual los agricultores pagaban $14, la mitad del costo original. La Fundaci√≥n Valles alent√≥ a los agricultores a seguir adaptando el dise√Īo original del secador. En mayo de 2018 visit√© a algunos de estos agricultores junto con los agr√≥nomos Walter Fuentes y Rolando Rejas de la Fundaci√≥n Valles, para averiguar qu√© hab√≠a pasado.

Cuando Augusto Cuba, en Achiras, recibi√≥ el agrofilm de la Fundaci√≥n Valles en 2016, no lo puso en uso de una vez. No hac√≠a falta porque hac√≠a sol durante varias cosechas, pero cuando los d√≠as lluviosos durante la cosecha de man√≠ en mayo del 2018, don Augusto puso a prueba el agrofilm. √Čl llev√≥ una lona de pl√°stico a su parcela y la puso en el suelo. Lo cubri√≥ con man√≠ reci√©n cosechado, cort√≥ el agrofilm por la mitad y lo coloc√≥ sobre su cosecha.

Don Augusto no copi√≥ el dise√Īo b√°sico del secador. No quer√≠a tomarse la molestia de cortar postes y construir la plataforma elevada de postes de madera. Su dise√Īo era mucho m√°s simple y port√°til: mientras trabajaba en el campo, pod√≠a quitar el agrofilm cuando sal√≠a el sol y volver a colocarlo cuando comenzaba a lloviznar nuevamente. La principal desventaja, sin embargo, era que el aire no flu√≠a sobre el man√≠ cubierto; la humedad podr√≠a acumularse, posiblemente permitiendo que se forme el moho.

El secador original en forma de carpa tiene varias limitaciones. Es caro, y como nos se√Īal√≥ don Augusto, es mucho trabajo hacer uno con madera. En la cosecha, los man√≠es son pesados con la humedad. Las vainas pierden m√°s o menos la mitad de su peso en el secado. Entonces los agricultores secan su man√≠ en el campo y duermen all√≠ varias noches para proteger la cosecha de los animales hambrientos. Un secador solar debe llevarse al campo, aunque puede tardar hasta una hora a pie desde su casa e implica subir y bajar pendientes fuertes. Los agricultores que s√≠ usan el secador solar original, tal como lo dise√Ī√≥ Fundaci√≥n Valles, son aquellos que tienen sus campos cerca de la casa. Sin embargo, incluso llevar una lona simple al sitio de cosecha ser√≠a mejor que secar las vainas sobre el puro suelo.

M√°s tarde tuve la oportunidad de discutir el secador de don Augusto con Miguel Florido, un agr√≥nomo de la Fundaci√≥n Valles, y con Mario Ar√°zola, el l√≠der de APROMANI (una asociaci√≥n de agricultores de man√≠). Les preocupaba que el dise√Īo de don Augusto atrapara demasiada humedad, especialmente si estaba nublado todo el d√≠a y el agricultor no pod√≠a quitar el agrofilm. Acordamos que un secador deb√≠a tener unos pocos criterios agron√≥micos simples; deb√≠a proteger el producto de la lluvia, evitar contacto entre el suelo y los man√≠es y dejar que el aire fluyera.

Después de discutir el caso de don Augusto, acordamos que un secador también debe cumplir con algunos de los criterios de los agricultores: tiene que ser barato, portátil y capaz de manejar grandes cantidades de maní, mientras los mantiene fuera de la lluvia.

La contaminaci√≥n por aflatoxinas es un problema serio en todo el mundo, y aunque se puede solucionar, inventar una tecnolog√≠a simple es un trabajo duro. Los investigadores comienzan con un problema y algunas ideas para resolverlo, como el flujo de aire y el man√≠ seco. Pero es solo despu√©s de ofrecer a los agricultores un prototipo que los investigadores pueden ver las demandas de los agricultores. Por ejemplo, dise√Īar un secador estacionario ayuda a los investigadores a ver que los agricultores necesitan uno port√°til. Hacer y usar un peque√Īo secador en el campo resalta la necesidad de un m√°s grande. Este tipo de demandas solo surgen con el tiempo, como en una conversaci√≥n larga y lenta, pero que vale la pena tener.

A healthier way to eat groundnuts June 3rd, 2018 by

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

Rosario Cadima is an enterprising farmer who spends two days a week buying and selling potatoes at the fair in Colomi, Cochabamba. Juan Almanza, the talented extensionist we met in last week’s blog (Videos for added inspiration), had given her a DVD with a series of agricultural learning videos aimed at farmers like her. The DVD included seven videos in Spanish, Quechua and Aymara on caring for the soil. One of the videos was about peanuts (groundnuts), which like other legumes, fixes nitrogen for the soil. Rosario recently watched the DVD with her parents, grandfather and other family members. They watched all of the videos over three nights, and she recalled them vividly.

Juan was surprised when Rosario mentioned the video on groundnuts. ‚ÄúBut you don‚Äôt grow groundnuts here,‚ÄĚ he said.

‚ÄúNo, but we buy them and eat them,‚ÄĚ Rosario said. Then she explained that she and her family sometimes bought peanuts that had a thick mold on them; they would simply wipe it off and eat the apparently clean nuts.

‚ÄúSo did we,‚ÄĚ Juan admitted.

The mold is a fungus, and it releases a poison called aflatoxin into peanuts and other stored foods. The video showed all of this, and explained that people should bury moldy food, instead of eating it.

Rosario’s family is now careful to avoid eating moldy peanuts. Farmers are also consumers and a video can help them to make better food choices. Smallholder farmers don’t always have opportunities to learn about public health matters related to the food that they produce and eat. The farmer learning videos hosted on Access Agriculture are now carrying many more messages than we first imagined. And the videos are rich enough that viewers can interpret them to learn unexpected lessons.  As we have said in our earlier blog (Potato marmalade), eating is the last step in a process that usually starts with planting a seed, so it makes sense that videos for farmers can also benefit consumers.

Watch the video

The video Managing aflatoxins in groundnuts during drying and storage is available to watch or freely download in English, Spanish and a dozen other languages.

For more videos about preparing nutritious food, please see:

Enriching porridge, baby food

Tomato concentrate and juice

Making rennet

Making fresh cheese

Pure milk is good milk

Making a condiment from soya beans

Making soya cheese

COMER MAN√ć M√ĀS SANO

Por Jeff Bentley, 3 de junio del 2018

Rosario Cadima es una AGRICULTORA emprendedora que pasa dos d√≠as a la semana comprando y vendiendo papas en la feria de Colomi, Cochabamba. Juan Almanza, el extensionista talentoso que conocimos en el blog de la semana pasada (Videos para un poco m√°s de inspiraci√≥n), le hab√≠a dado un DVD con una serie de videos de aprendizaje agr√≠cola dirigidos a agricultores como ella. El DVD incluy√≥ siete videos en espa√Īol, quechua y aymara sobre el cuidado del suelo. Uno de los videos era sobre cacahuates (man√≠es), que al igual que otras leguminosas, fija nitr√≥geno para el suelo. Rosario recientemente vio el DVD con sus pap√°s, abuelo y otros miembros de la familia. Miraron todos los videos durante tres noches, y ella los record√≥ v√≠vidamente.

Juan se sorprendi√≥ cuando Rosario mencion√≥ el video sobre man√≠. “Pero aqu√≠ no se produce man√≠”, dijo.

“No, pero los compramos y los comemos”, dijo Rosario. Luego explic√≥ que ella y su familia a veces compraban man√≠es que ten√≠an un molde grueso; simplemente lo limpiaban y com√≠an los granos, que parec√≠an limpios.

“Nosotros tambi√©n”, admiti√≥ Juan.

El moho es un hongo y libera un veneno llamado aflatoxina en los maníes y otros alimentos almacenados. El video mostró todo esto, y explicó que las personas deben enterrar el maní con moho, en vez de comerlo.

La familia de Rosario ahora tiene cuidado de no comer man√≠es con moho. Los agricultores tambi√©n son consumidores y un video puede ayudarlos a tomar mejores decisiones para con su comida. Los peque√Īos agricultores no siempre tienen la oportunidad de aprender sobre asuntos de salud p√ļblica relacionados con los alimentos que producen y comen. Los videos de aprendizaje agr√≠cola ubicados en Access Agriculture ahora llevan muchos m√°s mensajes de lo que imagin√°bamos al inicio. Y los videos son lo suficientemente ricos como para que el p√ļblico pueda interpretarlos para aprender lecciones inesperadas. Como hemos dicho en nuestro blog anterior (Mermelada de papa), comer es el √ļltimo paso en un proceso que generalmente comienza con la siembra de una semilla, por lo que tiene sentido que los videos para agricultores tambi√©n puedan beneficiar a los consumidores.

Vea el video

El video El manejo de aflatoxinas en man√≠ est√° disponible para ver o bajar gratis en ingl√©s, espa√Īol y una docena de otros idiomas.

Para más videos sobre la preparación de comida nutritiva, favor de ver:

Enriching porridge, alimento para bebés

Tomato concentrate and juice

Making rennet

Making fresh cheese

Pure milk is good milk

Making a condiment from soya beans

Making soya cheese

 

Design by Olean webdesign