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

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

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screening seed in bright lightOnly two of the videos were originally made in Bolivia: one on managing the poisonous aflatoxins in peanuts (groundnuts) and one on tarwi (the lupine bean).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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Call anytime March 19th, 2017 by

It’s difficult to know who reads a fact sheet, listens to a radio broadcast or watches a farmer learning video, but those of us who produce such information always want to know what happens to it, once it leaves our hands. In 2011 my colleagues at Access Agriculture tried a new way to do audience research. Access Agriculture and partners distributed 20,000 copies of a DVD on striga (the devil weed) across East Africa. Each copy contained a questionnaire, formatted as a letter, asking the viewers to tick off a few boxes and mail back the letter in the post. No one bothered to return the survey.

GerardSo in 2015, PhD candidate Gérard Zoundji tried a slightly different way to get feedback from viewers in Benin, as he explains in a recent paper in Cogent Food & Agriculture. First he compiled a DVD in five languages, with nine different videos on growing vegetables. Next, Gérard distributed his DVD through the private sector, mainly through agro-input dealers and people who sell movie DVDs. Previously DVDs had been distributed through extension providers, NGOs or government agencies, not from small shops.

Gérard asked the vendors to collect names and phone numbers of people who bought the DVD, so he could do follow up work with the buyers. Gérard gave the vendors the DVDs for free, in exchange for their cooperation, but allowed them to keep the equivalent of a dollar or two which they collected for each sale. He also tried a new way of doing follow up. He put a sticker in the DVD jacket, with a note inviting the recipients to phone in if they had questions. The number was for a SIM card that Gérard bought, just to receive such calls.

It was a pleasant surprise when people started phoning in. Of 562 who bought the DVD, a whopping 341 phoned Gérard. Some just called to say how much they had enjoyed watching the videos. Others wanted to share their story. Nearly 20% of them had been so eager to watch the videos that they bought their own DVD player. Others called to ask where they could buy the drip irrigation equipment featured on one of the videos.

The six agro-input dealers who were selling the DVD were also impressed with the video on drip irrigation, and the interest it inspired in farmers. Two of these dealers actually began to stock drip irrigation supplies themselves.

As Paul has written in an earlier post, farmers who have been exposed to drip irrigation through development projects usually abandon drip irrigation once the project ends. Projects usually make little effort to involve the private sector. Yet here were dealers who were motivated enough to find out where to buy the drip irrigation equipment, and stock it, in response to interest shown by farmers who had watched a video. Sometimes simply watching a video can excite people more than participating in a full project.

I am always delighted to learn about someone using a cell phone in a new way, especially if it involves giving rural people the chance to make their voices heard. A sticker inside a DVD cover was enough to encourage buyers of a DVD to call in with comments.

Since publishing the paper, Gérard has been discussing with Ministry of Agriculture staff in Benin about ways to design an advisory service via phone call.

Agro-input dealers and movie DVDs sellers, including some who were not involved in the study are now requesting new DVDs to sell.

In this story we see the phone was linked with the DVD. Both are ICTs (information and communication technologies), but the connection between the two was one of the oldest ICTs: the printed word on paper.

Further reading

Zoundji, G√©rard C., Florent Okry, Simplice D. Vodouh√™, and Jeffery W. Bentley 2016 ‚ÄúThe Distribution of Farmer Learning Videos: Lessons from Non-Conventional Dissemination Networks in Benin.‚ÄĚ Cogent Food & Agriculture 2(1):1277838. https://www.accessagriculture.org/publications

Related blog stories

To drip or not to drip

Beating a nasty weed

Watch all nine of the vegetable videos

Managing nematodes in vegetables

Making a chilli seedbed

Insect nets in seedbeds

Transplanting chillies

Drying and storing chillies

Making chilli powder

Drip irrigation for tomato

Reviving soils with mucuna

Managing soil fertility

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Village smart phones February 19th, 2017 by

village smart phones 1One of the most common questions about farmer training videos is how farmers will watch them if they don’t have electricity to run a projector, or own a laptop. As mobile communications improve, however, new ways are emerging that are making it easier for farmers to download, view and share videos.

This week, at a workshop in Tamil Nadu, southern India, my colleague Jeff and I were teaching local partners to validate fact sheets on major crop pests and diseases with farmers. We all learned a lot from farmers who read first drafts, and commented on their content. The fact sheets than served as basis on which partners developed scripts for training videos. Before leaving the village I was again reminded that farmers no longer need expensive hardware (such as a computer or TV and DVD player) to watch videos.

village smart phones 2Technology has evolved swiftly and influenced lives in rural areas in ways that were hard to imagine a decade ago. Over the past decade mobile phone companies in developing countries have been offering financial services that are just beginning to see the light in Western countries.

The boom in mobile phone use has triggered new types of service providers. Teenagers in Nigeria and many other African countries now tap power from solar panels to charge the mobile phones of rural folks coming to the weekly market.

village smart phones 3Last year, Gérard Zoundji (from the University of Abomey-Calavi) sent me photographs of a farmer in southern Benin who had watched farmer training videos about vegetables on his mobile phone. Someone had bought a DVD at the local agro-input shop and converted the videos from the DVD into 3gp format to watch on his mobile. Farmers are now able to watch videos even without DVD players.

village smart phones 4This week in India I saw farmers go one step further, and download videos. Kannappan, one of the trainees from the local NGO MSSRF, was chatting with some of the village farmers when one of them, Ramesh Permal, mentioned he was rearing fish in a pond. ICT-savvy Kannappan took out his mobile phone, connected to the Access Agriculture website, and searched among all Tamil videos, and found one on raising fingerlings. It took him less than 3 minutes to download the video to his mobile. Mr. Permal and another farmer then took out their smart phones, and swiftly connected to Kannappan’s mobile . The video file was nearly 50 Mb, but they transferred it to their mobile in just over 10 seconds using the SHAREit app. For ease of downloading to mobile phones when there is not a very good internet connection, Access Agriculture has also made all videos in its library available in 3gp format, which is about half the size.

After having said goodbye to the farmers, one of them saw the Access Agriculture website address (www.accessagriculture.org) on the back of my t-shirt and asked if he could take a photograph of it (with his phone). He would use the address to download more quality training videos in his own language.

Farmers may not have computers, but they are starting to get smart phones. Some smallholders rely on extensionists to get electronic information, but others are starting to use their phones to access information on their own, directly from the internet.

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) and the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (Farmer Science Centre) for helping to organise the workshop and field visits.

Related blog stories:

More than a mobile

Cell phones for smallholders

Village movies in Malawi

Watching videos without smartphones

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Stopping a silent killer February 12th, 2017 by

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

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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Crop with an attitude January 29th, 2017 by

A plant has a personality and, like people and countries, some have stronger characters than others. Take the lupin bean (Lupinus mutabilis), for example. It is an oddly erect legume that forms a sort of cone shape, and its glorious flowers make the plant wildly popular with gardeners in many countries. In Bolivia it is called ‚Äútarwi‚ÄĚ, from Quechua, the language of the Incas.

tarwi in bloomWhile making a video in Bolivia, my colleagues and I asked do√Īa Eleuteria in the village of Phinkina to tell us what she planted after harvesting tarwi. She surprised me by saying that sometimes she followed tarwi with potatoes. That‚Äôs astounding, because potatoes are such a demanding crop that Andean farmers often rest the soil for years before planting a field to potatoes. Otherwise the soil may be improved by adding tons of chicken manure. Bolivian farmers in the Andes don‚Äôt buy manure for other crops, just the fussy and valuable potato.

I followed up by asking Reynaldo Herbas, from the village of Tijraska, if he had ever planted potatoes right after tarwi. ‚ÄúYes, and it does very well. Planting tarwi is like fallowing your soil, or like using chicken manure,‚ÄĚ he explained.

Tarwi seeds are also rich in oils and proteins and do√Īa Eleuteria regularly feeds lupin beans to her children. Like some other Bolivians do√Īa Eleuteria make a nutritious snack by boiling the seeds, but it‚Äôs a lot of work. The grains need to be soaked in water for three days before boiling, then left in the running water of the river for several days to wash out the bitter alkaloids.

Agronomist Juan Vallejos from Proinpa (a research institute) confirmed that tarwi takes a lot of water to process. This is ironic, because tarwi is recommended for dry areas with impoverished soils. Sweet varieties without the bitter alkaloids do exist, but in Bolivia the search for these sweet lupins is only just starting.

sorting tarwi or lupine seedWhile visiting do√Īa Eleuteria to learn about processing seed, she showed us how to pick out the bad grains of tarwi, to ensure that the crop planted from them would be healthy. (The main disease is anthracnose, caused by the fungus Colletotrichum gloeosporioides). We asked do√Īa Eleuteria what she did with the diseased grains. We thought that she might say that she buried them to keep the disease from spreading. But no, she buries the discarded grains because raw lupin beans are toxic, whether they are healthy or diseased.

‚ÄúI do bury them,‚ÄĚ she explained, ‚Äúbecause they are so bitter that if the chickens eat them they will die.‚ÄĚ

Agronomist Vallejos explained that tarwi plants are so packed with alkaloids that sheep and cattle will not touch a crop growing in the field. However, the lupin plant is drought resistant and even withstands hail, which often mows down other food crops in the Andes. Local governments in Bolivia are starting to promote tarwi as a way of adapting to climate change.

A plant may have a complex personality, with sterling qualities as well as some tragic defects. Tarwi or lupin is in many ways a perfect crop: well-suited to the punishing climate of the High Andes while nutritious for people and good for the soil. The downside is that you need lots of water to process the beans and to leach out the poisons that can kill your unsuspecting chickens.

Acknowledgements

For this story in Cochabamba, Bolivia, I was fortunate enough to be accompanied by Paul Van Mele and Marcella Vrolijks of Agro-Insight and Juan Vallejos and Maura Lazarte and others from Proinpa. The visit was funded by the McKnight Foundation.

Further reading

Calisaya, J.J., ¬†M. Lazarte, R. Oros, P. Mamani 2016 ‚ÄúDesarrollo Participativo de Innovaciones Tecnol√≥gicas para Incrementar la Productividad de los Suelos Agr√≠colas en Regiones Andinas Deprimidas de Bolivia.‚ÄĚ Read at the Community of Practice meeting, McKnight Foundation, Ibarra, Ecuador 11-16 July. See the paper here.

Further viewing

The farmer training video Growing lupine without disease can be viewed and downloaded on the Access Agriculture video-sharing platform in English, French, Spanish, and shortly also in Quechua and Aymara.

CULTIVO CON CAR√ĀCTER FUERTE

Por Jeff Bentley

29 de enero del 2017

Una planta tiene una personalidad, y como la gente y los pa√≠ses, algunos tienen m√°s car√°cter que otros. Considere el lupino (Lupinus mutabilis), por ejemplo. Es una leguminosa que crece casi en forma de cono, y gracias a sus flores gloriosas la planta es querida por jardineros en muchos pa√≠ses. En Bolivia se llama ‚Äútarwi‚ÄĚ, del quechua, el idioma de los Incas.

Mientas mis colegas y yo film√°bamos un video en Bolivia, pedimos que do√Īa Eleuteria en la comunidad de Phinquina nos contara qu√© sembraba despu√©s de cosechar el tarwi. Ella nos sorprendi√≥ cuando dijo que a veces sembraba papa despu√©s del tarwi. Es incre√≠ble, porque las papas son tan exigentes que muchos agricultores andinos descansan el suelo durante a√Īos antes de sembrar papas. Si no, el suelo tendr√° que mejorarse agregando toneladas de gallinaza. Los agricultores en los Andes bolivianos no compran gallinaza para otros cultivos, solo la mimada y valiosa papa.

Luego le pregunt√© a Reynaldo Herbas de la comunidad de Tijraska, si √©l jam√°s hab√≠a sembrado papas despu√©s del tarwi. ‚ÄúS√≠, y produce muy bien. El sembrar tarwi es como descansar sus suelo, o como usar gallinaza,‚ÄĚ explic√≥.

Marcella films Eleuteria soaking tarwiLos granos de tarwi son ricos en aceites y prote√≠nas y do√Īa Eleuteria a menudo los da de comer a sus hijos. Igual que algunas otras bolivianas, do√Īa Eleuteria hace una merienda nutritiva con los granos cocidos, pero cuesta mucho trabajo. Los granos tienen que remojarse en agua durante tres d√≠as antes de cocerse, para despu√©s dejarlos en el chorro del r√≠o durante varios d√≠as m√°s para expulsar los amargos alcaloides.

El Ing. Agr√≥nomo Juan Vallejos de Proinpa (un instituto de investigaci√≥n) confirm√≥ que el tarwi toma mucha agua para procesarse. Es ir√≥nico, porque el tarwi se recomienda para zonas secas con suelos empobrecidos. Existen variedades dulces, sin los alcaloides amargos, pero en Bolivia reci√©n empieza la b√ļsqueda por esos lupinos dulces.

Cuando visitamos a do√Īa Eleuteria para aprender c√≥mo ella procesa la semilla, nos mostr√≥ c√≥mo quitar los granos malos de tarwi, para asegurarse que el cultivo que siembra ser√° sano. (La enfermedad principal es la antracnosis, causada por el hongo Colletotrichum gloeosporioides). Preguntamos a do√Īa Eleuteria qu√© hac√≠a con los granos enfermos. Pens√°bamos que dir√≠a que los enterraba para que las enfermedades no se diseminaran. Pero no, ella entierra a los granos descartados porque los granos crudos de tarwi son t√≥xicos, bien sea sanos o enfermos.

Eleuteria Sanchez burries bad lupine seed as chicken will die if they eat it‚ÄúLos entierro,‚ÄĚ explic√≥, ‚Äúporque son tan amargos que si las gallinas se los comen podr√≠an morirse.‚ÄĚ

El Ing. Vallejos explicó que las plantas de tarwi están tan cargadas de alcaloides que las ovejas y vacas no tocan al cultivo en la parcela. Sin embargo, la planta de tarwi es resistente a la sequía y hasta aguanta a la granizada, que a menudo arrasa con otros cultivos en los Andes. Los gobiernos locales en Bolivia empiezan a promover el tarwi como una adaptación al cambio climático.

Una planta puede tener una personalidad compleja, con cualidades de oro igual que algunos defectos trágicos. El tarwi o lupino en muchas maneras en el cultivo perfecto: bien adaptado a los desafíos del clima altoandino, mientras es nutritivo para la gente y bueno para el suelo. Su lado oscuro es que requiere de mucha agua para lavar los venenos que pueden matar a tus gallinas inocentes.

Agradecimientos

Para escribir este cuento en Cochabamba, Bolivia, tuve la buena suerte de estar acompa√Īado de Paul Van Mele y Marcella Vrolijks de Agro-Insight y Juan Vallejos y Maura Lazarte y otros de Proinpa. La visita se financi√≥ por la McKnight Foundation.

Para leer m√°s

Calisaya, J.J., ¬†M. Lazarte, R. Oros, P. Mamani 2016 ‚ÄúDesarrollo Participativo de Innovaciones Tecnol√≥gicas para Incrementar la Productividad de los Suelos Agr√≠colas en Regiones Andinas Deprimidas de Bolivia.‚ÄĚ Trabajo presentado en la reuni√≥n de la Comunidad de Pr√°ctica, McKnight Foundation, Ibarra, Ecuador 11-16 de julio. Ver la presentaci√≥n aqu√≠.

Para ver m√°s

El video educativo para agricultores Producir tarwi sin enfermedad¬†est√° disponible para ver y bajar en ingl√©s, franc√©s, espa√Īol, y pronto tambi√©n en quechua y aymara, en la plataforma Access Agriculture que se dedica a compartir videos.

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