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What do earthworms want? April 16th, 2017 by

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Even seemingly simple tasks, like raising the humble earthworm, can be done in more ways than one, however all variations must follow certain basic principles.

In a video from Bangladesh, villagers show the audience how to raise earthworms in cement rings, sunk into the soil. The floor is covered with a sheet of plastic to keep the worms from escaping. The worms are fed on chunks of banana corm and the ring is covered to keep out the rain, but still retain some moisture.

My grandfather used to raise worms in a pressed-board box on his back porch. He fed them on strips of newspaper and used coffee grounds. So I knew that there was more than one way to raise worms, but I didn‚Äôt quite realize how many options there were, until I saw two small, family firms in Cochabamba, Bolivia this week at an agricultural fair. Both firms raise earthworms and sell the worms, the humus they make, and the excess moisture collected in the process (to use as fertilizer‚ÄĒapplied on leaves or the soil).

mitt full of earthwormsOne company, Biodel, experimented with various types of containers. The worms died in plastic ones, but they thrived inside of aluminum cylinders, wrapped in foam (to keep them cool) inside of a metal barrel. A screened base with a tray collects the humus, while worm food (especially composted cow manure) is loaded into the top of the barrel.

worm rackA second company, Lombriflor, had a different devise. They use stacks of plastic-covered wooden trays on a slight slant, and they feed the earthworms corn plant residues, semi-composed cow manure, and kitchen scraps. Earthworms have their favorite foods. ‚ÄúEarthworms like all of the cucurbits (like squash), but nothing sour,‚ÄĚ explained Silvio Guti√©rrez and his wife, the company owners. ‚ÄúThey don‚Äôt like citrus at all.‚ÄĚ Earthworms will eat paper, but they prefer egg cartons.

So here we have a Bangladeshi cement ring, a Bolivian barrel and a set of wooden trays. It seems like a lot of different ways to raise worms, which is an important topic, because the night-crawlers, as my grandfather used to call them, help to enrich the compost, stabilize it and they improve the soil with the beneficial micro-organisms they release.

All of these worm brooders share certain core principles. The worms are kept cool, not allowed to escape, and are fed on organic matter (depending on what is abundant locally) and the earthworms are not allowed to get too dry or too moist.

The Bangladeshi earthworm video has been translated into Spanish and will soon be released in Bolivia. We hope it will inspire smallholder farmers to invent additional devices for raising the under-rated earthworm.

The Access Agriculture video-sharing platform will soon also host yet another video about rearing worms, featuring rural entrepreneurs in India who use woven polythene bags as containers.

Watch the video

The wonder of earthworms

¬ŅQU√Č QUIEREN LAS LOMBRICES DE TIERRA?

Por Jeff Bentley, 16 de abril del 2017

Hasta tareas aparentemente sencillas como criar a la humilde lombriz de tierra, pueden hacerse en m√°s de una forma, aunque todas las variantes deben seguir ciertos principios b√°sicos.

En un video de Bangladesh, los aldeanos muestran a la audiencia cómo criar las lombrices de tierra en argollas de cemento, semi-enterrados en el suelo. El piso se cubre con una hoja de plástico, para que las lombrices no escapen. Las lombrices comen pedacitos de tallos de plátano y la argolla se cubre, para que las lombrices no se ahoguen con la lluvia, pero que no se resequen tampoco.

Mi abuelo sol√≠a criar lombrices en una caja de tablas de aserr√≠n prensado en el corredor de su casa. Les alimentaba con tiras de peri√≥dico y borras de caf√©. As√≠ que yo ya sab√≠a de m√°s de una manera de criar lombrices, pero no me di cuenta de cu√°ntas opciones hab√≠a, hasta ver dos peque√Īas empresas familiares en Cochabamba, Bolivia esta semana en una feria agr√≠cola. Ambas empresas cr√≠an lombrices y las venden junto con el humus que hacen y el l√≠quido que se recolecta en el proceso (para usar como fertilizante‚ÄĒaplicado a las hojas o al suelo).

mitt full of earthwormsUna empresa, Biodel, experimentó con varias clases de contenedores. Las lombrices se morían en los de plástico, pero prosperaban en los cilindros de aluminio, forrados en espuma (para mantener la frescura) dentro de un barril metálico. Una base de malla con una charola recolecta el humus, mientras la comida de lombrices (especialmente estiércol de vaca compostada) se pone a la parte superior del barril.

worm rackUna segunda compa√Ī√≠a, Lombriflor, tiene otro dispositivo. Ellos usan bandejas de madera, una encima de la otra, livianamente inclinadas y cubiertas de pl√°stico, y alimentan a las lombrices con residuos de plantas de ma√≠z, esti√©rcol de vaca semi-compostada, y restos de cocina. Las lombrices tienen sus comidas favoritas. ‚ÄúA las lombrices les gustan todas las cuc√ļrbitas (como el zapallo), pero nada √°cido,‚ÄĚ explic√≥ Silvio Guti√©rrez y su esposa, los due√Īos de la empresa. ‚ÄúNo les gustan los c√≠tricos para nada.‚ÄĚ Las lombrices comer√°n papel, pero prefieren maples de huevo.

Así que tenemos una argolla de cemento bangladesí, un barril boliviano y un juego de bandejas de madera. Parecen muchas maneras para criar lombrices, lo cual es un tema importante, porque las lombrices ayudan a enriquecer el compost, estabilizarlo y mejoran el suelo con los micro-organismos benéficos que liberan.

Todos estos criaderos de lombrices comparten ciertos principios de fondo. Las lombrices se mantienen frescas, no pueden escapar, y se les alimenta con materia orgánica (lo que esté localmente abundante) y a las lombrices no se les deja mojarse mucho ni secarse demasiado.

El video de Bangladesh sobre la lombriz de tierra se ha traducido al espa√Īol y pronto ser√° distribuido en Bolivia. Esperamos que ello inspire a muchos campesinos a inventar otras herramientas adicionales para criar a la subestimada lombriz.

La plataforma para compartir videos, Access Agriculture, pronto albergar√° otro video sobre la crianza de lombrices de tierra, presentando a empresarios rurales en la India quienes usan gangochos (sacos de yute pl√°stico) como sus contenedores.

Ver el video

La maravillosa lombriz de tierra

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The best knowledge is local and scientific April 2nd, 2017 by

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Scientific knowledge is universal, but experienced agricultural scientists also bring their own, personal experience to bear on local problems.

Every year our guava tree loses all its fruit to fruit flies. A few weeks ago in Cochabamba my wife, Ana, sent me down to the agro-supply shop to get a special device, a pheromone trap, which lures fruit flies to their death using the scent of a sexual attractant. Insects use chemicals called pheromones to communicate with members of their own species. Some pheromones are emitted by a female fly that is ready to mate, but there are also alarm pheromones and aggregation pheromones (which you have seen in play, if you have ever noticed a large cluster of ladybird beetles clinging to a branch).

Ana was inspired to use the pheromone trap after having watched some training videos from Africa on the Access Agriculture website.

At the shop, the vendor said that ‚Äúyou get those traps at Proinpa.‚ÄĚ I was a little surprised that she even knew of pheromone traps, but even more so that she knew of Proinpa: not everyone is aware of nearby agricultural research institutes.

At Proinpa, Luis Crespo, an entomologist, asked us why we wanted a pheromone trap. When Ana said for guava, Luis gave us a sad, knowing smile, as if to say ‚Äúlost cause.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúBut the trap also works for fruit flies attacking peaches?‚ÄĚ Ana added.

Luis said yes, but fruit flies prefer guava so much that he advises peach growers to cut down any guava trees, or the peaches will be ruined by flies emerging from the guavas.

Luis took us to his lab, where he piqued our interest in the food bait trap, as an alternative to the pheromone trap. He took a plastic soda-pop bottle and cut three small doors in it, to let in the fruit flies. ‚ÄúFill the bottom of the bottle with a sweet liquid. The best one is fermented chicha.‚ÄĚ Luis smiled at the thought that fruit flies liked the traditional maize beer. The flies are attracted to the liquid bait in the bottom of the bottle and drown.

The Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) is native to Europe, but it is now widespread in South America. There are also fruit flies that are native to the Americas (Anastrepha spp.).

Unlike the pheromone trap, the food bait trap would catch both species of fruit fly, males and females, as well as houseflies, ‚Äúand even wasps and bees,‚ÄĚ Luis added with a touch of sadness. Entomologists like wasps, because they kill insect pests.

Luis Crespo with pheromone trapOn the other hand, Luis explained, when the food bait trap is full of dead insects, don’t pour it on the ground or the sugary liquid will attract fruit flies, and you will feed them instead of killing them.

Luis went on to explain that when wormy fruit falls to the ground, the fruit fly larvae pupate in the soil. So you have to gather up the fallen fruits immediately.

trampa de feromonasEven though Luis prefers food bait traps, which can be made entirely from local materials, he was kind enough to sell us a wax plug of imported pheromone bait as well. Luis took a wire and a pair of pliers and with a practiced hand, poked the wire through the bait and fashioned the wire into a little hook, so we could hang it inside the pheromone trap. Then he gave us the little triangular (delta) trap; the male, Mediterranean fruit flies will fly to the little plug of sex bait, but will be captured and die on the sticky floor of the trap.

Ana and I left pleased. We had three ideas: two kinds of traps and a renewed determination to clean up the fallen fruit. And if that didn’t work, we could always cut down our guava tree and plant an avocado tree in its place.

I remembered from earlier visits that Luis knew everything there was to know about potato pests, like weevils and moths. I was delighted to see that he was also an expert on fruit flies. Local knowledge and scientific knowledge are often seen as opposites, but at their best they are complimentary. A good agricultural scientist combines textbook knowledge with local experience to unravel the ties between peach trees and guava, the various species of flies, and the advantages of different traps for fruit flies.

Watch the videos

Integrated approach against fruit flies

Killing fruit flies with food baits

Collecting fallen fruit against fruit flies

Mass trapping of fruit flies

Weaver ants against fruit flies

EL MEJOR CONOCIMIENTO ES LOCAL Y CIENT√ćFICO

por Jeff Bentley, 2 de abril del 2017

El conocimiento científico es universal, pero los experimentados científicos agrícolas también usan su propia experiencia para solucionar los problemas locales.

Cada a√Īo nuestro guayabero pierde toda su fruta a las moscas de la fruta. Hace unas semanas en Cochabamba mi esposa Ana me mand√≥ a la tienda agropecuaria para comprar un aparato especial, una trampa de feromonas que llama a las moscas de fruta a su muerte, usando un atrayente sexual. Los insectos usan qu√≠micos llamados feromonas para comunicarse con miembros de su propia especie. Algunas feromonas son emitidas por una mosca hembra que est√° lista para la c√≥pula, pero hay tambi√©n feromonas de alarma y de agregaci√≥n (las cuales usted tal vez ha visto en acci√≥n, si alguna vez se ha fijado en un gran grupo de mariquitas aferr√°ndose a una rama).

Ana se inspiró a usar la trampa de feromonas después de ver algunos videos didácticos de Africa en el sitio web de Access Agriculture.

En la tienda, la vendedora dijo ‚Äúse consiguen esas trampas en Proinpa.‚ÄĚ Me sorprendi√≥ que ella supiera de las trampas de feromona, y m√°s todav√≠a que ella conoc√≠a a Proinpa: no todos se dan cuenta de los institutos de investigaci√≥n agr√≠cola en su zona.

En Proinpa, el Ing. Luis Crespo, entom√≥logo, nos pregunt√≥ por qu√© quer√≠amos una trampa de feromona. Cuando Ana dijo para el guayabero, Luis nos dio una sonrisa triste, como decir ‚Äúcausa perdida.‚ÄĚ

‚Äú¬ŅPero la trampa tambi√©n funciona para moscas de la fruta que atacan a los durazneros?‚ÄĚ Ana agreg√≥.

Luis dijo que sí, pero que las moscas de la fruta prefieren tanto a la guayaba que él asesora a los productores de durazno a quitar todos sus guayaberos, caso contrario los duraznos serán arruinados por las moscas que emergen de las guayabas.

Luis nos llev√≥ a su laboratorio, donde nos interes√≥ en la trampa con atrayente alimenticio, como alternativa a la trampa de feromona. Tom√≥ un envase pl√°stico de refresco y cort√≥ tres peque√Īas puertas, para dejar entrar las moscas de la fruta. ‚ÄúHay que llenar el fondo con cualquier l√≠quido dulce. Lo mejor es la chicha fermentada.‚ÄĚ Luis sonri√≥ al pensar que a las moscas de la fruta les gusta la tradicional cerveza de ma√≠z. Las moscas se atraen al anzuelo l√≠quido al fondo de la botella y all√≠ se ahogan.

La mosca mediterránea (Ceratitis capitata) es nativa a Europa, pero hoy en día está difundida por Sudamérica. Hay también moscas de la fruta nativas a las Américas (Anastrepha spp.).

A diferencia de la trampa de feromonas, la trampa alimenticia atrapar√≠a a ambas especies de mosca de la fruta, tanto machos como hembras, y moscas dom√©sticas, ‚Äúy hasta avispas y abejas,‚ÄĚ Luis agreg√≥ con un toque de tristeza. A los entom√≥logos les gustan las avispas porque matan a las plagas insectiles.

Luis Crespo with pheromone trapPor otro lado, explicó Luis, cuando la trampa alimenticia está llena de insectos muertos, no botes el contenido al suelo porque el líquido dulce atraerá a las moscas de la fruta, y las alimentarás en vez de matarlas.

Luis siguió explicando que cuando la fruta agusanada cae, las moscas de la fruta se empupan en el suelo. Hay que eliminar toda la fruta caída inmediatamente.

trampa de feromonasA pesar de que Luis prefiere las trampas alimenticias, que se pueden hacer de materiales locales, amablemente nos vendió un tapón de cera, con feromonas. Luis tomó un alambre y alicate y con una mano experta, pasó el alambre a través del tapón y formó el alambre como ganchito, para que lo pudiéramos colgar dentro de la trampa de feromona. Luego nos dio una trampita triangular (trampa delta); los machos de la mosca mediterránea irán volando al corcho impregnado de olor a sexo, pero serán capturados y morirán en el piso pegajoso de la trampa.

Ana y yo nos fuimos contentos. Teníamos tres ideas: dos clases de trampas y una determinación renovada de limpiar la fruta caída. Y si eso no funcionaba, siempre podríamos despachar nuestra guayabera y plantar un palto (aguacate) en su lugar.

Me acordé de mis anteriores visitas que Luis lo sabía todo de las plagas de la papa, como gorgojos y polillas. Me encantó ver que también era experto en las moscas de la futa. El conocimiento local y el científico a menudo se ven como opuestos, pero en el mejor de los casos se complementan. Un buen científico agrícola combina el conocimiento de los textos con la experiencia local para entender la relación entre los durazneros y los guayaberos, las diferentes especies de moscas, y las ventajas de las diferentes trampas para las moscas de la fruta.

Vea los videos

Integrated approach against fruit flies

Killing fruit flies with food baits

Collecting fallen fruit against fruit flies

Mass trapping of fruit flies

Weaver ants against fruit flies

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Videos that speak to Andean farmers March 26th, 2017 by

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The Quechua language (or group of closely related languages, depending on your perspective), is a Native American tongue with some eight to ten million speakers in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. Quechua was actually encouraged in the colonial era: grammars, dictionaries and catechisms were written in the language, chairs for teaching the language were founded in Andean universities. But Quechua was scorned during the republican era, following independence from Spain (1809-1825). In recent years, the language has been recovering ground in a sense. It is starting to be used in schools and in political speech.

Wikipedia lists over 20,000 articles in Quechua. Popular on-line videos in Quechua include language lessons, the Jesus Film, films produced by students, and a rousing version of ‚ÄúHakuna Matata‚ÄĚ. The talented Renata Flores plays ‚ÄúHouse of the Rising Sun‚ÄĚ on the piano and sings it in Quechua, with heart and soul.

But there are few agricultural videos in Quechua. This is rather surprising, since the people who speak Quechua are fundamentally farmers. So we have remedied this, a bit.

Along with colleagues in Bolivia and at Agro-Insight, we have produced seven farmer training videos in Quechua. The same videos are also available in Aymara, the language native to the Lake Titicaca region of Peru and Bolivia.

screening seed in bright lightOnly two of the videos were originally made in Bolivia: one on managing the poisonous aflatoxins in peanuts (groundnuts) and one on tarwi (the lupine bean). Other videos were originally shot in other countries (shown in brackets):

Integrated Soil Fertility Management (various African countries)

Let’s Talk Money:  simple cost:benefit accounting for new farm technology (Mali)

The Wonder of Earthworms (Bangladesh)

Grass Strips against Soil Erosion (Vietnam and Thailand)

Till Less to Harvest More (Guatemala)

You may wonder why we translated existing videos instead of making new ones. Cost is one reason. It is much cheaper and easier to translate a video than to make one. Besides, many of the Quechua videos already on the web are basically translations of other work.  If that works for entertainment, it should be OK for farming.

Farmers understand learning videos other continents, provided the voice over is in a language that the audience speaks. Videos are a way of sharing knowledge from farmer-to-farmer cross culturally.

We hope that speakers of Quechua and Aymara will enjoy seeing smallholders, like themselves, farming and solving problems in Asia, Africa and Central America.

The videos are hosted in the public domain at the Access Agriculture portal, which has many videos in African and Asian languages. These are the site’s first videos in Native American languages.

Videos in Quechua

To watch the videos in Quechua, visit Access Agriculture here.

Videos in Aymara

You can also watch videos in Aymara here.

Acknowledgements

The translations were funded by the McKnight Foundation

VIDEOS QUE HABLAN A LOS AGRICULTORES ANDINOS

Por Jeff Bentley, 26 de marzo del 2017

El quechua es un idioma (o grupo de idiomas muy cercanos, seg√ļn su perspectiva), nativo a las Am√©ricas, con unos ocho a diez millones de hablantes en Bolivia, Per√ļ y Ecuador. Los gobiernos coloniales efectivamente fomentaron el uso del quechua: gram√°ticas, diccionarios y catequismos se escribieron en el idioma y se fundaron c√°tedras para ense√Īar el idioma en las universidades andinas. Pero el quechua fue desprestigiado en la era republicana, despu√©s de la independencia de Espa√Īa (1809-1825). En a√Īos recientes, el idioma se ha cobrado fuerzas. Empieza a usarse en los colegios y en discursos pol√≠ticos.

Wikipedia dice que tiene m√°s de 20,000 art√≠culos en quechua. Videos populares en l√≠nea incluyen lecciones para aprender el idioma, pel√≠culas producidas por estudiantes, Jes√ļs (la pel√≠cula) y una versi√≥n emocionante de ‚ÄúHakuna Matata‚ÄĚ. La talentosa Renata Flores toca ‚ÄúHouse of the Rising Sun‚ÄĚ en el piano y lo canta en quechua, con alma y coraz√≥n.

Pero hay pocos videos agrícolas en quechua, lo cual es sorprendente, ya que las personas que habla el idioma son fundamentalmente agricultores. Entonces hemos hecho algo para cambiar la situación.

Junto con colegas en Bolivia y en Agro-Insight, hemos producido siete videos did√°cticos en quechua. Los mismos videos tambi√©n est√°n disponibles en aymara, el idioma nativo a la regi√≥n del Lago Titicaca del Per√ļ y Bolivia.

sorting tarwi or lupine seed3Solo dos de los videos se rodaron originalmente en Bolivia: uno sobre el manejo de las venenosas aflatoxinas en maní, y uno sobre el tarwi (chocho, o lupino). Otros videos se filmaron originalmente en otros países (indicados entre paréntesis):

Manejo Integrado de la Fertilidad del Suelo (varios países africanos)

Hablemos del Dinero: contabilidad sencillo para costo:beneficio de nueva tecnología agrícola (Malí)

La Maravillosa Lombriz de Tierra (Bangladesh)

Barreras Vivas contra la Erosión del Suelo (Vietnam y Tailandia)

Arar Menos para Cosechar M√°s (Guatemala)

Tal vez se pregunta porque tradujimos videos existentes en vez de hacer nuevos videos. El costo es una razón. Es mucho más barato y fácil traducir un video que hacer uno. Además, muchos de los videos en quechua que ya están en la Web son básicamente traducciones de otras obras. Si eso vale para el entretenimiento, también funciona para el agro.

Los agricultores entienden a los videos did√°cticos de otros pa√≠ses, con tal que la narraci√≥n sea en un idioma que el p√ļblico hable. Los videos son una manera de compartir el conocimiento de campesino-a-campesino de forma intercultural.

Esperamos que los hablantes del quechua y del aymara disfruten de ver a campesinos, como ellos mismos, trabajando y resolviendo problemas en Asia, Africa y Centroamérica.

Los videos est√°n alojados en el dominio p√ļblico en el portal de Access Agriculture, que tiene muchos videos en idiomas africanos y asi√°ticos. Pero los presentes son los primeros videos en el sitio en idiomas nativas a las Am√©ricas.

Videos en quechua

Para mirar los videos en quechua, visite a Access Agriculture aquí.

Videos in Aymara

Se puede mirar los videos en aymara aquí.

Agradecimientos

Las traducciones se fundaron por la McKnight Foundation

 

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Stopping a silent killer February 12th, 2017 by

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Mycotoxins are poisons produced by common mold fungi. The best known examples are aflatoxins, produced by Aspergillus, which are of increasing concern worldwide because they contaminate  many types of stored foods, including groundnuts (peanuts), manioc, maize (corn) and chilli. Aflatoxins affect the health of people and animals and are powerful carcinogens if  enough is consumed. Like many successful poisons, aflatoxins are invisible and tasteless, so they are tricky to manage.

sorting groundnutsThe other week, I was in Chuquisaca, Bolivia, with Paul and Marcella from Agro-Insight, making a video for farmers on how to manage molds and reduce contamination of food. Part of the solution is surprisingly low-tech.

The first step is to recognize the molds. They look like a dark green powder, growing between the pink skin of the peanuts and the white layer of the shell around them. Farmer Dora Campos explains that the people in her village, Achiras, used to dismiss the molds, saying simply that the pods were rotten. Farmers would salvage the bad nuts by feeding them to pigs or chickens, and some people would even eat the rotten nuts. Thanks to what they’ve learned in recent years, the villagers now bury the spoiled peanuts.

Aspergillus survives on organic matter in the soil, within easy reach of peanut pods, for example. Antonio Medina showed us how he dried his peanut pods off the ground, as soon as they are harvested, to stop the mold contaminating them. This keeps the nuts as clean and dry as possible.

Like most fungi, Aspergillus needs water to thrive. Don Antonio shows us how the farmers pick through the whole pile of harvested peanuts, after drying, when the pods are cleaner and the bad ones are easier to spot. The farmers go through the harvest one pod at a time, discarding all of the spoiled or discolored pods. It takes time, but it is a technique that smallholders can use to produce a high-quality product, based on thoughtfulness and hard work.

Agronomist Edwin Mariscal is trying a simple solar dryer with many of the farmers he works with. Mr. Mariscal introduces us to Santiago Gutiérrez, who has built one of the dryers: a wooden frame raised off the ground and covered with a sheet of tough, sun-resistant plastic. Mr. Mariscal has been working with similar dryers in the field, with farmers for years. The dryers started as a metal version for drying peaches, but experience showed that the dryers worked just as well if they were made from wooden poles cut on the farm.

Don Santiago, and his wife Emiliana, explain that the dryer works beautifully. Peanuts dry even in the rain. The family can also put maize and chilli into the structure, to dry those foods free of aflatoxin.

You can keep deadly aflatoxins out of food by following a few simple principles, including harvesting on time (not too late, or the Aspergillus has more time to get into the pods). Keep the produce off the ground. Dry it out of the rain and remove the moldy pieces. Store produce in a cool, dry place, off the floor.

Acknowledgement 

Thanks to Fundación Valles for information for this article, and for supporting our filming in the field. The video production was funded by the McKnight Foundation.

To watch the video

Watch and download the farmer training video: Managing aflatoxins in groundnuts during drying and storage

Sign up for the D-group at Access Agriculture to get an alert whenever new videos are posted on www.accessagriculture.org.

EVITAR UN ASESINO SILENCIOSO

Por Jeff Bentley, 12 de febrero del 2017

Las micotoxinas son venenos producidos por mohos de hongos comunes. Los ejemplos más conocidos son aflatoxinas, producidas por Aspergillus, que son de interés actual porque contaminan muchas clases de alimentos almacenados, incluso manís (cacahuates), yuca, maíz y chile (ají). Las aflatoxinas afectan la salud de la gente y de los animales y son  cancerígenos poderosos si se consume lo suficiente. Como muchos venenos exitosos, las aflatoxinas son invisibles y sin sabor, entonces son difíciles de manejar.

maize, chilli and groundnut in solarLa otra semana, estuve en Chuquisaca, Bolivia, con Paul y Marcella de Agro-Insight, haciendo un video para agricultores sobre cómo manejar mohos y reducir la contaminación de los alimentos. Felizmente, parte de la solución es el uso de tecnología apropiada.

El primer paso es reconocer a los mohos. Parecen un polvo verdusco oscuro, que crece entre la piel roja del man√≠ y la capa blanca de la c√°scara. La agricultora Dora Campos explica que antes, la gente de su comunidad, Achiras, no daba importancia a los mohos, diciendo simplemente que ¬†las vainas estaban podridas. Los agricultores rescataban los man√≠s malos, d√°ndoles de comer a sus chanchos o gallinas, y algunas personas hasta com√≠an los granos podridos. Gracias a lo que han aprendido en los √ļltimos a√Īos, ahora los comuneros saben enterrar los granos podridos.

Aspergillus sobrevive en la materia orgánica del suelo, al alcance de las vainas de maní, por ejemplo. Antonio Medina nos mostró cómo él secaba sus vainas en un toldo al cosecharlas, para evitar que el moho las contamine. Eso ayuda a mantener a los manís limpios y secos. Como la mayoría de los hongos, el Aspergillus necesita agua para vivir.

Don Antonio nos muestra cómo los agricultores escogen todos los manís cosechados, después de secarlos, cuando las vainas son más limpias y es más fácil ver las malas. Los agricultores revisan toda su cosecha, una vaina a la vez, descartando las vainas malas o descoloridas. Toma tiempo, pero es una técnica que los campesinos pueden usar para producir un producto de alta calidad, trabajando en forma consciente.

El Ing. Edwin Mariscal est√° probando un simple secador solar con varias familias. El Ing. Mariscal nos presenta a Santiago Guti√©rrez, que ha construido uno de los secadores: una tarima de palos como una mesa, cubierto de una hoja de pl√°stico fuerte y resistente al sol. El Ing. Mariscal ha trabajado con secadores parecidos en el campo, con agricultores, durante varios a√Īos. Los secadores empezaron como una versi√≥n met√°lica para secar duraznos, pero la experiencia mostr√≥ que los secadores funcionaban igual si se hac√≠an de palos cortados en la zona.

Don Santiago, y su esposa Emiliana, explican que el secador funciona bien bonito. Los manís secan hasta en la lluvia. La familia también lo usa para secar maíz y ají, para evitar aflatoxina en ellos.

Se puede mantener los alimentos libres de las aflatoxinas letales siguiendo unos principios sencillos, como cosechar a tiempo (no muy tarde, o el Aspergillus tendr√° m√°s tiempo para entrar a las vainas). No secar el producto en el suelo. Evitar que entre la lluvia al producto y saque las piezas podridas. Almacene en un lugar seco y fresco, no en el piso.

Agradecimiento

La Fundación Valles nos proporcionó información para este artículo, y apoyó nuestra filmación en el campo. Este video ha sido financiado por Programa Colaborativo de Investigación de Cultivos (CCRP) de la McKnight Foundation.

Para ver la video

El manejo de aflatoxinas en maní durante el secado  y en el almacenamiento

Puede inscribirse para el D-group en Access Agriculture para recibir una alerta cuando este video se suba al www.accessagriculture.org.

 

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Puppy love February 5th, 2017 by

In the The Field Guide to Fields, Bill Laws colourfully depicts how fencing is a global and age-old practice. Fences mark field boundaries and they stop farm animals from straying.  Fences make it easier to look after animals but enclosed areas can make them more vulnerable to wily predators. During our recent trip in Bolivia we learned how farmers have come up with a clever way to protect their sheep from foxes.

puppy love 1After an amazing drive along winding mountainous roads of Chuquisaca, crossing a narrow improvised bridge just about the width of the car, and wading through riverbeds, we arrive at the farmhouse of do√Īa Basilia Camargo early in the morning. Her husband is about to leave to mend some fences around their fields further up in the mountains. Do√Īa Basilia and her husband keep their 15 sheep near the house in a corral fenced with brushwood and barbed wire.

puppy love 2I ask about the miniature house that has been built into the corral. The little mud house has a slanted roof to let the rainwater glide off, a small window and a door leading to the coral. It looks like a house for chickens, or a toy made by the children, but do√Īa Basilia explains that it has a more serious purpose. She is raising a dog to protect the sheep from foxes.

Do√Īa Basilia gets into the corral, and shows us an even smaller shelter in one of the corners. She calls it a ‚Äúnest,‚ÄĚ and she wriggles her hand through the small opening and brings out a little puppy that is only two weeks old, barely big enough to stand on its own legs. Most people only bring home puppies that have been weaned, but this puppy has a ewe as a substitute mother.

puppy love 3‚ÄúI make the ewe lie down and then let the puppy suckle‚ÄĚ, she explains. The dog will continue to suckle as it grows older, and will bond with the flock, following them to pasture and back to the corral.

It all has been properly planned. The small mud house that we saw along the fence is to become the house for the dog, once it has become bigger. When the puppy is old enough to follow the sheep, do√Īa Basilia will take him with her, and spend two weeks herding the sheep. That should be enough for the dog to learn to tend the flock on his own.

Do√Īa Basilia used to have a sheep dog but it died three years ago, and she has been trying since then to raise another one. Some dogs have died and others refuse to be trained.

She points to three dogs napping in the sun. ‚ÄúI tried training that dog there, but he is lazy and doesn‚Äôt like to walk. He goes out with the sheep, but comes back and just lies down near the house. I hope I will have better luck with this one,‚ÄĚ she confides in us smilingly.

So while brushwood and barbed wire fences may be enough to keep the sheep in, a specially trained dog could defend them from foxes, both in the field and in the corral, where the dog will be sheltered from the cold in his own little house. Once more we were reminded of the marvelous ingenuity of local farmers to use their available resources to protect their valuable flock.

Further reading

Bill Laws, 2010. The Field Guide to Fields. Hidden Treasures of Meadows, Prairies and Pastures. Washington: National Geographic.

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