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In the spirit of wine March 31st, 2024 by

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

While working at a vineyard in Spain, Enrique Carvajal thought of starting his own winery back home in Bolivia. Enrique was from the small town of Cliza, in Cochabamba, but he had spent most of his career working abroad, at different jobs from the USA to Tel Aviv. He would go out for a year or two, and send money home to his wife and family.

Enrique’s parents had always grown grapes in Bolivia, so he had long known how to make a rustic wine, but the Spanish vineyard was unusual. It was associated with priests, and set up to make sacramental wine, some of which they sent to priests in other countries, which did not make their own wine. The experience gave him the idea that wine could be kind of a big deal.

In 2015, in his fifties, and back in Bolivia, don Enrique collected varieties, like white muscatel, shiraz, merlot and others. By 2021, he produced over 2000 liters. Over the years, Enrique has observed which vines produce a fine wine at his farm‚Äôs altitude, 2,800 meters, making it among the highest vineyards in the world. Enrique has also created a label, and given his vineyard a name, Medall√≥n. Having a name was a marketing idea that Enrique learned in Spain, but the name ‚ÄúMedall√≥n‚ÄĚ comes from the different medals that his family‚Äôs peaches and apples have won in local fairs.

Don Enrique also innovates by cooperating with Cliza’s municipal government, which releases sterile fruit flies in the valley every Wednesday. Medallón is one of their release sites.

Don Enrique is proud that his family’s wine is natural. He doesn’t add any chemicals to it, he explains.

He shows my wife Ana and I, and some fellow visitors, a sample of his neat bottles, with red, white and rosé vintages. The newest ones sell for a modest 25 Bolivianos (just over 3 dollars), while the 11-year-old wines sell for 100 Bolivianos.

‚ÄúI‚Äôm setting aside some wine every year, for my children and grandchildren to keep as long as possible,‚ÄĚ don Enrique explains. This aged wine and a family business will be part of don Enrique‚Äôs legacy.

Enrique‚Äôs years in Spain gave him a vision of a different future, while his stay in Tel Aviv gave him an appreciation of the past. ‚ÄúWhen I lived in Tel Aviv, I was able to travel all over the Holy land,‚ÄĚ don Enrique explains, adding sadly, ‚ÄúTo the places where they are fighting now.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúI visited Bethlehem and Jerusalem and Canaan, where Jesus performed his first miracle of turning water into wine.‚ÄĚ He adds, ‚ÄúWine is sacred.‚ÄĚ

Enrique combined his grape-growing skills, learned at home, with some Spanish ideas for marketing an upscale product, and then experimented on his own with different grape varieties at high altitudes. Intangibles, like caring for the environment, wanting to leave something for the family, and finding a spiritual connection with one’s produce, all add meaning to his work.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Enrique Carvajal, Ana Gonz√°les, and Paul Van Mele for commenting on previous versions of this story.

EN EL ESP√ćRITU DEL VINO

Por Jeff Bentley

31 de marzo del 2024

Mientras trabajaba en un vi√Īedo en Espa√Īa, Enrique Carvajal pens√≥ en montar su propia bodega en Bolivia. Enrique era de la peque√Īa ciudad de Cliza, en Cochabamba, pero hab√≠a pasado la mayor parte de su carrera trabajando en el extranjero, en distintos empleos desde los Estados Unidos a Tel Aviv. Se iba por uno o dos a√Īos y enviaba dinero a su mujer y a su familia.

Los padres de Enrique siempre hab√≠an cultivado la vid en Bolivia, as√≠ que √©l sab√≠a desde hac√≠a tiempo c√≥mo hacer un vino r√ļstico, pero el vi√Īedo espa√Īol era distinto. Estaba asociada a unos curas quienes elaboraban vino sacramental, parte del cual enviaban a sacerdotes de otros pa√≠ses, donde no se elaboraba su propio vino. La experiencia le dio la idea de que el vino pod√≠a ser algo importante.

En 2015, ya cincuent√≥n y de vuelta en Bolivia, don Enrique recolect√≥ variedades, como moscatel blanco, shiraz, merlot y otras. Para 2021, sol√≠a producir m√°s de 2000 litros por a√Īo. A lo largo de los a√Īos, Enrique ha observado qu√© cepas producen un buen vino a la altitud de su finca, 2.800 metros, lo que la sit√ļa entre los vi√Īedos m√°s altos del mundo. Enrique tambi√©n ha creado una etiqueta y ha dado nombre a su vi√Īedo, Medall√≥n. Tener un nombre fue una idea de marketing que Enrique aprendi√≥ en Espa√Īa, pero el nombre “Medall√≥n” viene de las diferentes medallas para los duraznos y manzanas que su familia ha ganado en ferias locales.

Don Enrique también innova colaborando con la alcaldía de Cliza, que libera moscas de la fruta estériles en el valle todos los miércoles. Medallón es uno de sus lugares de liberación.

Don Enrique est√° orgulloso de que el vino de su familia sea natural. No le a√Īade ning√ļn producto qu√≠mico, √©l explica.

Nos ense√Īa a mi mujer Ana y a m√≠, y a otros visitantes, una muestra de sus elegantes botellas, con vinos tintos, blancos y rosados. Las m√°s nuevas se venden a s√≥lo 25 bolivianos (poco m√°s de 3 d√≥lares), mientras que las de 11 a√Īos cuestan 100 bolivianos.

“Cada a√Īo reservo algunas botellas de vino para que mis hijos y nietos las conserven lo m√°s que puedan, explica don Enrique. Este vino a√Īejo y un negocio familiar formar√°n parte del legado de don Enrique.

Los a√Īos que Enrique pas√≥ en Espa√Īa le dieron una visi√≥n nueva del, mientras que su estancia en Tel Aviv le hizo apreciar el pasado. “Cuando viv√≠a en Tel Aviv, pude viajar por toda la Tierra Santa”, explica don Enrique, y a√Īade con tristeza: “A los lugares donde ahora est√°n peleando”.

“Visit√© Bel√©n y Jerusal√©n y Cana√°n, donde Jes√ļs hizo su primer milagro de convertir el agua en vino”. Y a√Īade: “El vino es sagrado”.

Don Enrique combin√≥ sus conocimientos sobre el cultivo de la vid, aprendidos en casa, con algunas ideas espa√Īolas para comercializar un producto de alta gama, y luego experiment√≥ por su cuenta con distintas variedades de uva a gran altitud. Los intangibles, como el cuidado del medio ambiente, el deseo de dejar algo a la familia y la b√ļsqueda de una conexi√≥n espiritual con los propios productos, a√Īaden significado a su trabajo.

Agradecimiento

Agradezco a Enrique Carvajal, Ana Gonz√°lez y Paul Van Mele por leer y comentar sobre versiones previas de este relato.

Videos to encourage agroecology February 4th, 2024 by

Agrochemicals can be sold, but agroecology often has to be shared for free.  In 2012, Access Agriculture (a non-profit) began to offer free videos on agroecology for farmers. A recent review of 244 digital tools found that Access Agriculture was one of only three that offered advice to smallholders on a wide range of agroecological principles, using exemplary extension features, such as options in various languages.

In 2021 we held an online survey of the users of Access Agriculture, to find out how people were using and sharing the videos and other information. They could take the survey in English, French, or Spanish, and 2976 people did so. Most of the respondents (83%) were living in Africa, where Access Agriculture started, suggesting that there is scope to expand in Latin America and Asia. Most survey takers were extensionists, educators (who show videos in class) and farmers themselves, who are increasingly getting online.

Access Agriculture makes an effort to feature female-friendly innovations and to film women farmers (as well as men). Still, 84% of the respondents were men. This is partly because women have less access to phones and to Internet, but the videos do reach women. Many of the extensionists who were surveyed use the videos with organized groups of women farmers.

The survey asked how the videos had made a difference in farm families‚Äô lives. Answers were multiple choice, and more than one response was allowed. Choices were randomised so that each respondent saw them in a different order, so as not to favour the first items on the list. The top response, ‚Äúbetter yield‚ÄĚ garnered almost 50% of the responses. This suggests that strengthening farmers‚Äô knowledge on agroecology, through the videos, can improve farmers‚Äô yields, an idea that is currently debated.

The other frequent answers suggest that the videos promote productive, sustainable agriculture. ‚ÄúImproved pests, disease and weed management‚ÄĚ, ‚Äúbetter soil health and soil fertility‚ÄĚ, and ‚Äúbetter produce‚ÄĚ were all noted by over 40% of respondents. Only 1% thought that the videos had made no impact on farmers‚Äô lives.

Three quarters (72%) of the farmers who download the videos also share them. Farmers would only do this if they found the videos useful. The survey estimated that since 2015, the videos reached 90 million people, mainly by mass media. That is partly because the videos are professionally filmed, and TV stations can request the broadcast quality versions and play them on the air. Radio stations also broadcast the soundtracks, which are easily downloadable. From 2012 to 2021, four million people were reached by smaller programs, often screening videos in the villages.

Smart phones make it easy to share links to videos. Over half (51%) of the respondents shared the videos this way, reaching nearly five thousand (4927) organizations. By 2021, Access Agriculture had videos in 90 languages. However, only 55% of the survey respondents knew about these other language versions. As a result, by 2024, Access Agriculture had made local language versions easier to find online. In 2021, the Access Agriculture interface was only in three languages. Now it is in six, as Hindi, Bengali and Portuguese have joined English, French and Spanish. Access Agriculture also begun to list the video title and written summary in the language of each version, not just in the languages of the interface. Now users can find videos by entering search words in languages like Kiswahili, Telegu and Quechua.

The farmers (and others) who took our survey are people who can afford the airtime to take an online survey. They are literate in English, French or Spanish, because they have had a formal education. But with time, smart phones will become less expensive to use. As today’s youngest farmers mature, they will also bring more digital skills into the farming community. The next decade will make these videos even more accessible for farmers, extensionists and others, in ways we can scarcely imagine now.

Agroecology relies on techniques such as crop rotation, organic fertilizer, and natural enemies of plant pests. Many of these practices cannot be bought and sold. They depend on knowledge that can be conveyed online, by extensionists, and in schools. Videos in many languages can effectively share agroecology with farmers, for free, on the Internet.

Previous Agro-Insight blogs adapted from the online survey

Staying grounded while on the air in Ghana

A greener revolution in Africa

Teaching the farmers of tomorrow with videos

Further reading

Our online survey:

Bentley, Jeffery, Paul Van Mele, Flora Chadare, and Mahesh Chander. 2022. Videos on agroecology for a global audience of farmers: An online survey of Access Agriculture. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability 20(6):1100-1116.

The review of digital tools:

Burns, Sessie, Kyle M. Dittmer, Sadie Shelton, and Eva Wollenberg. 2022. Global digital tool review for agroecological transitions. Agroecological TRANSITIONS: Inclusive Digital Tools to Enable Climate-informed Agroecological Transitions (ATDT). Cali, Colombia: Alliance of Bioversity & CIAT.

 

After the camera leaves December 24th, 2023 by

At Agro-Insight, we make a lot of videos with farmer-experimenters. But experimentation can go on for years, even after we have wrapped up our video. We film many innovations that farmers have honed after learning about them from agronomists. Capturing those practices on a video makes them seem permanent. But the farmers and their extensionists keep reworking the ideas, after the video is filmed, as I saw recently in Kiphakiphani, near Viacha, in the high country around La Paz, Bolivia.

In December I was at a large, annual meeting of the McKnight Foundation. Our hosts, local research-&-development agencies, had brought in farmers from across the vast Altiplano, to a ‚Äútechnology fair,‚ÄĚ where the farmers showed off their current innovations. Many of the participants were farmers who have appeared on previous videos of ours. It was a chance to catch up.

In 2018, we filmed Milton Villca, an extensionist, and farmers from the community of Chita, near Uyuni in southern Bolivia, planting live barriers to stop devastating wind erosion in quinoa fields. At the time we filmed the community, they showed us how to gather the tiny seeds of native brush, t’ola, using plastic basins. The community members worked so well and so fast that they clearly had a lot of experience gathering the tiny seeds. But anything can be improved.

At the stand I visited in 2023, five years after filming, they described a better way to collect millions of tiny seeds, with a big vacuum cleaner, powered by electricity from a car battery.

In 2018, Chita was planting windbreaks with seedlings raised in another community. But now the people of Chita have their own nursery, and they are growing and planting many more of these native t’ola plants in the fight to keep their farmland from blowing away.

In 2022, Farmers from Cebollullo, in a warm valley of La Paz, showed us how to make enriched biofertilizer, for a video. As farmer Freddy Rivero explained at the technology fair in late 2023, they also make other inputs, like a liquid ash mix, bokashi and Bordeaux mix. None of these were developed locally. As Freddy said of the Bordeaux mix ‚ÄúThe French invented this as a fungicide for their grape vines‚ÄĚ. But using these organic products instead of agrochemicals is still a big change for Cebollullo, where most farmers rely on agrochemicals to produce truckloads of onions and lettuce for the large wholesale markets of La Paz and El Alto, two of Bolivia‚Äôs biggest cities.

Before adopting biofertilizers, the farmers of Cebollullo had a problem. Their crop yields were declining while agrochemical costs kept going up. Now the farmers are making more money producing vegetables with organic inputs. ‚ÄúOf 120 of us, 22 farmers are now using these organic inputs,‚ÄĚ Freddy said.

I asked him why more farmers were not using the alternatives to chemicals. ‚ÄúBecause we only started using them ourselves, a year ago,‚ÄĚ Freddy said. Actually, it was more like two years ago, but now farmers like don Freddy are showing their neighbors in Cebollullo that the alternatives to chemicals really work. Freddy and his colleagues expect more farmers to start using the homemade fertilizers and fungicides in the next few years. If the agroecological farmers can farm profitably, it will gradually convince the neighbors to change from chemicals to ecologically-sound farming.

Parts of our 2022 video on enriched biofertilizer were also filmed in Chigani Alto, a village on the shores of Lake Titicaca. The farmers from Chigani Alto, including Fernando Villca and Juana Martínez, showed us how they are using lots of other inventions as well, such as fertilizer made from earthworms. To teach Bolivian farmers how to rear earthworms, agronomist Maya Apaza is showing them videos from India and Bangladesh. The farmers in Bolivia are raising earthworms in one-meter by one-meter wooden boxes. They are also experimenting with the fertilizer derived from earthworms, comparing it side-by-side with chemical fertilizer, to see which one works best.

So the camera creates a record of farmer-agronomist collaboration, and the practical ideas they come up with together, but after the camera leaves, life goes on, and so does further innovation.

Further reading

For more on the t’ola plants and their scientific names see:

Bonifacio, Alejandro, Genaro Aroni, Milton Villca, and Jeffery W. Bentley 2023 Recovering from Quinoa: Regenerative Agricultural Research in Bolivia. Journal of Crop Improvement 37(5): 687-708. https://doi.org/10.1080/15427528.2022.2135155

Previous Agro-Insight blogs

Recovering from the quinoa boom

Organic leaf fertilizer

Watch the videos we made in Bolivia

Living windbreaks to protect the soil

Making enriched biofertilizer

The videos on earthworms from South Asia

The wonder of earthworms

Making a vermicompost bed

Acknowledgements

The technology fair in December 2023, was organized by the Proinpa Foundation, Prosuco, and the Public University of San Andrés (UMSA). The experiments in Chita, with soil conservation, was conducted by Proinpa, and the biofertilizer innovations were led by Prosuco. This work was supported by the McKnight Foundation’s Global Collaboration for Resilient Food Systems.

DESPU√ČS DE GUARDAR LA C√ĀMARA

En Agro-Insight, hacemos muchos videos con agricultores experimentadores. Pero la experimentaci√≥n puede durar a√Īos, incluso despu√©s de que hayamos terminado nuestro video. Muchas de las innovaciones que filmamos han sido pulidas por los agricultores despu√©s de haberlas aprendido de los agr√≥nomos. Capturar esas pr√°cticas en un video las hace parecer permanentes. Pero los agricultores y sus extensionistas siguen reelaborando las ideas, despu√©s de que se filma el video, como vi recientemente en Kiphakiphani, cerca de Viacha, en el altiplano de La Paz, Bolivia.

En diciembre estuve en una gran reuni√≥n anual de la Fundaci√≥n McKnight. Nuestros anfitriones, agencias bolivianas de investigaci√≥n y desarrollo, hab√≠an tra√≠do agricultores de todo el vasto Altiplano a una “feria tecnol√≥gica”, donde los agricultores mostraban sus innovaciones actuales. Varios de los participantes eran agricultores que han aparecido en videos anteriores nuestros. Fue una oportunidad para ponernos al d√≠a.

En 2018, filmamos a Milton Villca, un extensionista, y a agricultores de la comunidad de Chita, cerca de Uyuni en el sur de Bolivia, mientras plantaban barreras vivas para detener la devastadora erosi√≥n del viento en los campos de quinua. En ese momento, en la comunidad, nos mostraron c√≥mo recolectar las peque√Ī√≠simas semillas de arbustos nativos, las t’olas, usando fuentes de pl√°stico. Los miembros de la comunidad trabajaban tan bien y tan r√°pido que claramente ten√≠an mucha experiencia recolectando las semillitas. Pero todo se puede mejorar.

En el stand que visit√© en 2023, cinco a√Īos despu√©s de la filmaci√≥n, mostraron que hab√≠an descubierto una mejor manera de recolectar millones de semillas chiquitas, con una aspiradora grande, alimentada por electricidad de una bater√≠a de autom√≥vil.

En 2018, Chita estaba plantando rompevientos con pl√°ntulas cultivadas en otra comunidad. Pero ahora la gente de Chita tiene su propio vivero y est√° cultivando y plantando muchas m√°s de estas plantas nativas de t’ola en la lucha para evitar que sus tierras se las lleve el viento.

En 2022, los agricultores de Cebollullo, en un c√°lido valle de La Paz, nos mostraron c√≥mo hacer biofertilizante enriquecido, para un video. Como explic√≥ el agricultor Freddy Rivero en la feria tecnol√≥gica a fines de 2023, tambi√©n elaboran otros insumos, como una mezcla de ceniza l√≠quida, bokashi y caldo bordol√©s. Ninguno de estos fue desarrollado localmente. Como dijo don Freddy acerca del caldo bordol√©s: “Los franceses lo inventaron como fungicida para sus vides”. Pero usar estos productos org√°nicos en lugar de agroqu√≠micos sigue siendo un gran cambio para Cebollullo, donde la mayor√≠a de los agricultores conf√≠an en los agroqu√≠micos para producir camionadas de cebollas y lechugas para los grandes mercados mayoristas de La Paz y El Alto, dos de las ciudades m√°s grandes de Bolivia.

Antes de adoptar biofertilizantes, los agricultores de Cebollullo ten√≠an un problema. Sus rendimientos agr√≠colas estaban disminuyendo mientras los costos de los agroqu√≠micos segu√≠an subiendo. Ahora los agricultores est√°n ganando m√°s dinero produciendo verduras con insumos org√°nicos. “De 120, 22 agricultores ahora usamos estos insumos org√°nicos”, dijo Freddy.

Le pregunt√© por qu√© no m√°s agricultores usaban las alternativas a los qu√≠micos. “Porque nosotros mismos solo comenzamos a usarlos, hace un a√Īo”, dijo Freddy. En realidad, fue m√°s como hace dos a√Īos, pero ahora agricultores como don Freddy est√°n mostrando a sus vecinos en Cebollullo que las alternativas a los qu√≠micos realmente funcionan. Freddy y sus colegas esperan que m√°s agricultores comiencen a usar los fertilizantes y fungicidas caseros en los pr√≥ximos a√Īos. Si los agricultores agroecol√≥gicos pueden cultivar de manera rentable, convencer√°n gradualmente a los vecinos de que pasen de los qu√≠micos a una agricultura ecol√≥gicamente responsable.

Partes de nuestro video de 2022 sobre biofertilizante enriquecido tambi√©n se filmaron en Chigani Alto, un pueblo a orillas del lago Titicaca. Los agricultores de Chigani Alto, como Fernando Villca y Juana Mart√≠nez, nos mostraron c√≥mo usaban otros inventos tambi√©n, como un fertilizante hecho de lombrices de tierra. Para ense√Īar a los agricultores bolivianos a criar lombrices de tierra, la agr√≥noma Maya Apaza les muestra videos de India y Bangladesh. Los agricultores en Bolivia est√°n criando lombrices de tierra en cajas de madera de un metro por un metro. Tambi√©n est√°n experimentando con el fertilizante derivado de las lombrices de tierra, compar√°ndolo lado a lado con el fertilizante qu√≠mico, para ver cu√°l funciona mejor.

La c√°mara crea un registro de la colaboraci√≥n entre agricultores y agr√≥nomos, y las ideas pr√°cticas que se les ocurren juntos. Pero despu√©s de que la c√°mara se guarda, la vida contin√ļa, igual que la innovaci√≥n.

Lectura adicional

Sobre las t’olas y sus nombres científicos:

Bonifacio, Alejandro, Genaro Aroni, Milton Villca, and Jeffery W. Bentley 2023 Recovering from Quinoa: Regenerative Agricultural Research in Bolivia. Journal of Crop Improvement 37(5): 687-708. https://doi.org/10.1080/15427528.2022.2135155

Previamente en el blog de Agro-Insight

Recuper√°ndose del boom de la quinua

Abono foliar org√°nico

Ver los videos que filmamos en Bolivia

Barreras vivas para proteger el suelo

Cómo hacer un abono biofoliar

Los videos del Sur de la Asia sobre la lombriz de tierra

La maravillosa lombriz de tierra

Haciendo una lombricompostera

Agradecimientos

La feria de prácticas y tecnologías agroecológicas en diciembre del 2023 se organizó por la Fundación Proinpa, Prosuco, y la Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA). Los experimentos en Chita, con la conservación del suelo, se realizaron con Proinpa, y las innovaciones con el biofertilizante se hicieron con Prosuco. Este trabajo fue apoyado por la Colaboración Global para Sistemas Alimentarios Resilientes de la Fundación McKnight.

 

Tourist development September 10th, 2023 by

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

Rural communities are starting to welcome local tourism as a way to make money. And more people in the expanding cities of Latin America are now looking for outings they can take close to home.

This year, local officials in Anzaldo, in the provinces of Cochabamba, Bolivia, asked for help bringing tourists to their municipality. Aguiatur, an association of tour guides, offered to help.

In late June, Alberto Buitrón, who heads Aguiatur, and a carload of tour guides, visited Claudio Pérez, the young tourism-culture official for the municipal government of Anzaldo. They went to see local attractions, and people who could benefit from a tour. They also printed an attractive handout explaining what the visitors would see.

In late July, ads ran in the newspaper, promoting the tour, and inviting interested people to deposit 250 Bolivianos ($35) for every two passengers, into a certain bank account. Ana and I live in Cochabamba, 65 kilometers from Anzaldo, and we decided to make the trip, but the banks had already closed on Friday . So, I just went to the Aguiatur office. Alberto was busy preparing for the trip, but he graciously accepted my payment. ‚ÄúAnd with the two of you, the bus is closed,‚ÄĚ Alberto said, with an air of finality.

But by Saturday, more people had asked to go, and so Alberto charted a second bus and phoned the cook who would make our lunch on Sunday. At 8 PM, Saturday night, she agreed to make lunch the next day for 60 people instead of 30. In Bolivia, flexible planning often works just fine.

Early Sunday morning, we tourists met at Barba de Padilla, a small plaza in the old city of Cochabamba, and the tour agents assigned each person a seat on the bus. That would make it easy to see if anyone had strayed. Many of the tourists were retired people, more women than men, and a few grandkids. They were all from Bolivia, but many had never been to Anzaldo.

At each stop, Aguiatur had organized the local people to provide a service or sell food. In the hamlet of Flor de Pukara, we met Claudio, the municipal tourist official, but also Camila, just out of high school, and Zacarías Reyes, a retired school teacher. Camila and don Zacarías were from Flor de Pukara, and they were our local guides to show us the pre-Inka pukara (fortified site). This pukara was a cluster of stone walls on top of a rock crag. Tour guide Marizol Choquetopa, from Aguiatur, cautioned the group not to leave trash and not to remove any of the ancient pot sheds. And no one did, as near as I could tell. Our local guides told us stories about the place: spirits in the form of young ladies are said to appear on one rock outcropping, Torre Qaqa (Cliff Tower), to play music and dance at night.

We walked along the stone banks of the river, the Jatun Mayu. Then Camila’s mother served us phiri, a little dish of steamed cracked wheat, topped with cheese. It was faintly fermented, and fabulous.

In the small town of Anzaldo, we met Marco Delgadillo, a local agronomist and businessman, who has moved back to Anzaldo after his successful career in the city of Cochabamba. His hotel, El Molino del B√ļho (Owl Mill), includes a room for making and tasting chicha, a local alcoholic beverage brewed from maize. There was plenty of room for our large group in the salon, where we had a delicious lunch of lawa, a maize soup with potatoes, roast beef and chicken.

After lunch, our two buses gingerly navigated the narrow streets of the small town of Anzaldo. The town plaza had recently been fitted out with large models of dinosaurs to encourage visitors to come see fossils and dinosaur tracks. Two taxis were parked at the plaza, and the drivers evidently thought that they owned the town square. As the buses inched by, one taxi driver got out and angrily offered to come over and give our bus driver a beating. The passengers yelled back, urging the taxi driver to be reasonable, and he quieted down.

Our sense of adventure heightened by that buffoonish threat of violence, we drove out to the village of Tijraska. Local leaders clearly wanted to receive visitors. The community had prepared for our visit by putting up little signs indicating how to get to there. One of the leaders, don Mario, welcomed us in Quechua, the local language. Then he paused and asked if the tourists could understand Quechua.

Several people said yes, which delighted don Mario.

We strolled down to the banks of the muddy reservoir, in a narrow canyon. One young man, Ramiro, had bought a new wooden boat, with which he paddled small groups around an island in the reservoir.

For the grand finale, we stopped at the home of Ariel Angulo, a respected Bolivian musician, song writer and maker of musical instruments. Don Ariel played for us, and showed us the shop where he carves his wooden charangos, small stringed instruments. He explained that the charango was copied from a colonial Spanish instrument, the timple. After living in the city of Cochabamba for years, don Ariel has moved back home, to Anzaldo. The best charangos used to be made in Anzaldo, before the instrument makers moved to Cochabamba. Don Ariel hopes to teach young people to make charangos, and bring the craft back to Anzaldo.

This was the first ever package tour to come to Anzaldo. Local tourism from the emerging big cities of tropical countries can be a source of income for rural people, while teaching city people something about the countryside. Some people who left the small towns are retiring back in the countryside, and can help provide services to visitors and even bring traditional crafts back. It is easier for Bolivian tour guides to work with local tourists than foreign ones. For example, the local people speak the national languages. The local tour guides know how to deal with customers who sign up late. There may be risks of over-visitation, but for now, municipal governments are willing to explore tourism as development. And it can be done locally, with no foreign investment or international visitors.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to David Garviz√ļ, Irassema Guzm√°n, Marizol Choquetopa and Alberto Buitr√≥n of Aguiatur, for a safe and educational trip to Anzaldo. Alberto Buitr√≥n, Ana Gonz√°les and Paul Van Mele read and commented on an earlier version of this story.

A video from Anzaldo

Here is a video about producing healthy lupins, a nutritious. local food crop, filmed in Anzaldo in 2017. Growing lupin without disease

TURISMO PARA EL DESARROLLO

Jeff Bentley, 10 de septiembre del 2023

Las comunidades rurales empiezan a fomentar el turismo local para generar ingresos. Y más gente en las crecientes ciudades de Latinoamérica empieza a buscar destinos cerca de la casa.

Este a√Īo, algunos oficiales en Anzaldo, en las provincias de Cochabamba, Bolivia, pidieron ayuda para traer turistas a su municipio. Aguiatur, una asociaci√≥n de gu√≠as tur√≠sticos, ofreci√≥ su ayuda.

Fines de junio, Alberto Buitrón, el director de Aguiatur, y varios guías, visitaron a Claudio Pérez, el joven Responsable de Turismo-Cultura del municipio de Anzaldo. Visitaron a varios atractivos, y a vecinos que podrían aprovechar del tour. Además, imprimieron un lindo folleto explicando qué es que los visitantes verían.

Fines de julio, salieron anuncios en el peri√≥dico, promoviendo el tour, e invitando a los interesados a depositar 250 Bs. ($35) para cada par de pasajeros, en una cuenta bancaria. Ana y yo vivimos Cochabamba, a 65 kil√≥metros de Anzaldo, y reci√©n decidimos viajar despu√©s del cierre de los bancos el viernes. Por eso, fui no m√°s a las oficinas de Aguiatur. Alberto estaba en plenos preparativos para el tour, pero amablemente me atendi√≥. ‚ÄúY con ustedes dos, el bus est√° cerrado,‚ÄĚ dijo Alberto, con el aire de la finalidad.

Sin embargo, para el sábado más personas pidieron cupos, así que Alberto contrató un segundo bus, y llamó a la cocinera que haría nuestro almuerzo el domingo. A las 8 PM, el sábado, ella quedó en hacer almuerzo para el día siguiente para 60 personas en vez de 30. En Bolivia, la planificación flexible suele funcionar bastante bien.

A primera hora el domingo, los turistas nos reunimos en la peque√Īa plaza de Barba de Padilla, en el casco viejo de Cochabamba, y los gu√≠as tur√≠sticos asignaron a cada persona un asiento en el bus. As√≠ podr√≠an llevar un buen control y no perder a nadie. Muchos de los turistas eran jubilados, m√°s mujeres que hombres, con algunos nietitos. Todos eran de Bolivia, pero muchos no conoc√≠an a Anzaldo.

En cada escala, Aguiatur hab√≠a organizado a la gente local para dar un servicio o vender comida. En el caser√≠o de Flor de Pukara, conocimos a Claudio, el oficial de turismo municipal, pero tambi√©n a Camila, reci√©n egresada del colegio, y Zacar√≠as Reyes, un profesor jubilado. Camila y don Zacar√≠as eran de Flor de Pukara, y como gu√≠as locales nos mostraron la Pukara preincaica. La pukara era una colecci√≥n de muros de piedra encima de un pe√Īasco. Nuestra gu√≠a Marizol Choquetopa, de Aguiatur, advirti√≥ al grupo no botar basura y no llevar los tiestos antiguos. Y que yo sepa, nadie lo hizo. Nuestros gu√≠as locales nos contaron cuentos del lugar: esp√≠ritus en forma de se√Īoritas que aparecen sobre una un pe√Īasco, Torre Qaqa, para tocar m√ļsica y bailar de noche.

Caminamos sobre las orillas pedregosas del río Jatun Mayu. Luego la mamá de Camila nos sirvió un platillo de phiri, trigo quebrado al vapor con un poco de queso encima. Ligeramente fermentada, era fabulosa.

En el pueblo de Anzaldo, conocimos a Marco Delgadillo, agr√≥nomo local y empresario, que hab√≠a retornado a Anzaldo despu√©s de su exitosa carrera en la ciudad de Cochabamba. Su hotel, El Molino del B√ļho, incluye un cuarto para hacer y catear chicha de ma√≠z. Hab√≠a amplio campo para nuestro grupo en el sal√≥n principal, donde disfrutamos de un almuerzo delicioso de lawa, una sopa de ma√≠z con papas, carne asada y pollo.

Despu√©s del almuerzo, nuestros dos buses lentamente navegaron las estrechas calles del pueblo de Anzaldo. En la plaza se hab√≠an instalado modelos grandes de dinosaurios para animar a los turistas a visitar para ver a los f√≥siles y huellas de dinosaurios. Dos taxis estacionados se hab√≠an adue√Īado de la plaza. Los buses pasaban cent√≠metro por cent√≠metro, cuando un taxista sali√≥ y, perdiendo los cables, ofreci√≥ dar una paliza a nuestro conductor. Los pasajeros gritamos en su defensa, sugiriendo calma, y el taxista se call√≥.

Después del show del taxista payaso, tuvimos más ganas todavía para la aventura, mientras nos dirigimos a la comunidad de Tijraska. Los dirigentes claramente querían recibir visitas. La comunidad había preparado para nuestra visita, colocando letreros indicando el camino. Uno de los dirigentes, don Mario, nos dio la bienvenida en quechua, el idioma local. Luego pausó y dijo que tal vez no todos hablábamos el quechua.

De una vez, varios dijeron que sí, lo cual encantó a don Mario.

Caminamos a las orillas de un reservorio con agua color de tierra, en un ca√Ī√≥n angosto. Un joven, Ramiro, hab√≠a comprado una nueva lancha. Subimos en peque√Īos grupos y a remo nos mostr√≥ una isla en el reservorio.

Para cerrar con broche de oro, visitamos la casa de Ariel Angulo, un respetado m√ļsico boliviano. Tambi√©n es cantautor y hace finos instrumentos musicales. Don Ariel toc√≥ un par de canciones para nosotros, y nos mostr√≥ su taller de charangos de madera. Explic√≥ que el charango se copi√≥ durante la colonia de un instrumento espa√Īol, el timple. Despu√©s de vivir durante a√Īos en la ciudad de Cochabamba, don Ariel ha vuelto a su tierra natal, a Anzaldo. En anta√Īo los mejores charangos se hac√≠an en Anzaldo, antes de que los fabricantes se fueron a Cochabamba. Don Ariel espera ense√Īar a los j√≥venes a hacer charangos, y devolver esta arte a Anzaldo.

Nuestra gira a Anzaldo era el primero en la historia. El turismo local, partiendo de las pujantes ciudades de los pa√≠ses tropicales, puede ser una fuente de ingreso para la gente rural, mientras los citadinos aprendemos algo del campo. Algunas personas que abandonaron las provincias est√°n volviendo, y pueden ayudar a dar servicios a los visitantes, y hasta dar vida a las artes tradicionales. Es m√°s f√°cil para gu√≠as bolivianos trabajar con turistas locales que con extranjeros. Por ejemplo, los turistas locales hablan los idiomas nacionales. Los gu√≠as locales saben lidiar con clientes que se apuntan a √ļltima hora. S√≠ se corre el riesgo de una sobre visitaci√≥n, pero para ahora, los gobiernos municipales est√°n explorando al turismo local como una contribuci√≥n del desarrollo. Y se puede hacer con recursos locales, sin inversi√≥n extranjera y sin turistas internacionales.

Agradecimientos

Gracias a David Garviz√ļ, Irassema Guzm√°n, Marizol Choquetopa y Alberto Buitr√≥n de Aguiatur, por un viaje seguro y educativo a Anzaldo. Alberto Buitr√≥n, Ana Gonz√°les y Paul Van Mele leyeron e hicieron comentarios sobre una versi√≥n previa de este relato.

Un video de Anzaldo

Aquí está un video que muestra cómo producir tarwi (lupino) sano, un nutritivo alimento local, filmado en Anzaldo en el 2017. Producir tarwi sin enfermedad.

 

Neighborhood trees August 20th, 2023 by

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

Trees make a city feel like a decent place to live. That often means planting the trees, which help to cool cities, sequester carbon and provide a habitat for birds and other wildlife. But large-scale tree planting in a city can be difficult.

Cochabamba, Bolivia is one of many fast-growing, tropical cities. In the not-too-distant future, most of the world’s people may live in a city like this. Cochabamba is nestled in a large Andean valley, but in the last twenty years, the city has also spread into the nearby Sacaba Valley, which was formerly devoted to growing rainfed wheat. As late as the 1990s, the small town of Sacaba was just a few blocks wide. Now 220,000 people live in that valley, which has become part of metropolitan Cochabamba. The wheat fields of Sacaba have been replaced by a maze of asphalt streets, and neat homes of brick, cement and tile.

I was in Sacaba recently with my wife Ana, who introduced me to some people who are planting trees along the banks of a dry wash, the Waych’a Mayu. It was once a seasonal stream, but it is now dry all year. It has been blocked upstream by people who have built streets and causeways over it.

For the past 18 months, an architect, Alain Vimercati, and an agroforester, Ariel Ayma, have been working with local neighborhoods in Sacaba to organize tree planting. That included many meetings with the leaders and the residents of 12 grassroots neighborhood associations (OTBs‚ÄĒorganizaciones territoriales de base) to plan the project.

They decided to plant trees along the Waych’a Mayu, which still had some remnant forests of dryland trees, like molle and jarka. The local people had seen some of the long, shady parks in the older parts of Cochabamba. They were excited to have a green belt, five kilometers long, running through their own neighborhoods. Alain and Ariel, with the NGO Pro Hábitat, produced 2,400 tree seedlings in partnership with the local, public forestry school (ESFOR-UMSS). The local people dug the holes, planted the trees, and built small protective fences around them.

The trees were planted in January. In July, Ana and I went with about 20 people from some of the OTBs to see how the seedlings were doing. When we reached the line of trees, Ariel, the agro-forester, pointed out that the trees had more than doubled in size in just six months. Eighty percent of them had survived. But now they had to be maintained. It has been a dry year, and it hasn‚Äôt rained for five months. The trees were starting to wilt. Even so, Ariel encouraged the people by saying ‚Äúmaintenance is more important than water.‚ÄĚ He meant that while the trees did need some water, they also needed to be protected. It is important to reassure people that they won‚Äôt have to spend money on water. Many people in Sacaba have to buy their water. As we met, cistern trucks drove up and down the streets, offering 200 liters of water for 7 Bolivianos ($1).

The seedlings include a few hardy lemons, but most of the other species are native, dryland trees: guava, broadleaf hopbush (chacatea), jacaranda, tara, tipa, and ceibo.

Ariel used a pick and shovel to show the group how to clear a half-moon around the trees, to catch rain water. He has a Ph.D. in agroforestry, but he seems to love the physical work.

Ariel cut the weeds from around the first tree, and placed them around the base of the trunk, to shade the soil. The representatives from the OTBs, including a retired man, and a woman carrying a baby, quickly agreed to meet a week later, and to bring more people from each neighborhood, to help take care of the trees.

Ana and I went back the following Saturday. A Bolivian bank had paid for a tanker truck of water (16,000 liters, worth about $44). I was surprised how many people turned out, as many as fifteen or twenty at some OTBs. They used their own picks and shovels to quickly clean out the hole around each tree. Then they waited for the tanker truck to fill their barrels so the people from the neighborhoods could give each thirsty tree a bucketful of water. Ariel explained that a bit of water the first year will help the trees recover from the shock of being transplanted, then they should normally survive on rain water. The neighbors did feel a sense of ownership. Some of them told us that they occasionally poured a bucket of recycled water on the trees near their homes.

Ariel is also a professor of forestry, and some of his students had come to help advise the local people. But the residents did most of the work, and in most OTBs the trees were soon weeded and ready to be watered.

The people have settled in Sacaba from all over highland Bolivia, from Oruro, La Paz, Potosí and rural parts of Cochabamba. They have organized themselves into OTBs, which made it possible for Alain and Ariel to work with the neighborhood associations to plan the greenbelt and plant the trees. The cell phone also helps. A few years ago, people had to be invited by a local leader going door-to-door. At those few neighborhoods where no one showed up, Alain phoned the leader of the OTB, who rang up the neighbors. Sometimes within half an hour of making the first phone call, people were digging out the holes around each tree.

In the rapidly-growing cities of the developing world, many of the new residents are from farming communities, and they have rural skills, useful when planting trees. Their new neighborhoods will be much nicer places to live if they have trees. Hopefully, as this case shows, the tree species will be well suited to the local environment, and the local people will be empowered with a sense of ownership of their green areas.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Alain Vimercati and Ariel Ayma of Pro H√°bitat, and to all the people who are planting and caring for the trees.

Scientific names

Molle Schinus molle

Jarka Parasenegalia visco (previously Acacia visco)

Guava Psidium guajava

Broadleaf hopbush (common name in Bolivia: chacatea), Dodonaea viscosa

Jacaranda Jacaranda mimosifolia

Tara Caesalpinia spinosa

Tipa Tipuana tipu

Ceibo Erythrina crista-galli

Related Agro-Insight blogs

The cherry on the pie

Experiments with trees

The right way to distribute trees

Videos on caring for trees

Living windbreaks to protect the soil

Flowering plants attract the insects that help us

Demi lunes

Managed regeneration

ARBOLES DEL BARRIO

Jeff Bentley, 20 de agosto del 2023

Los árboles hacen que una ciudad sea más amena. A menudo hay que plantar los árboles, que ayudan a refrescar las ciudades, capturar carbono y crear un hábitat para la vida silvestre, como las aves. Pero plantar árboles a gran escala en una ciudad puede ser difícil.

Cochabamba, Bolivia es una de las muchas ciudades tropicales de r√°pido crecimiento. En un futuro pr√≥ximo, la mayor parte de la poblaci√≥n mundial podr√≠a vivir en una ciudad como √©sta. Cochabamba est√° anidada en un gran valle andino, pero en los √ļltimos veinte a√Īos la ciudad se ha extendido tambi√©n al cercano valle de Sacaba, antes sembrado en trigo de secano. En la d√©cada de los 1990, la peque√Īa ciudad de Sacaba s√≥lo ten√≠a unas manzanas de ancho. Ahora viven 220.000 personas en ese valle, que ha pasado a formar parte de la zona metropolitana de Cochabamba. Los trigales de Sacaba han sido sustituidos por un laberinto de calles asfaltadas y bonitas casas de ladrillo, cemento y teja.

Hace poco estuve en Sacaba con mi esposa Ana, que me present√≥ a unas personas que est√°n plantando √°rboles a orillas de un arroyo seco, el Waych’a Mayu. Antes era un arroyo estacional, pero ahora est√° seco todo el a√Īo. Ha sido bloqueado r√≠o arriba por personas que han construido calles y terraplenes sobre el curso del agua.

Durante los √ļltimos 18 meses, un arquitecto, Alain Vimercati, y un doctor en ciencias silvoagropecuarias, Ariel Ayma, han trabajado con los vecinos de Sacaba para organizar la plantaci√≥n de √°rboles. Eso incluy√≥ varias reuniones con los l√≠deres y los residentes de 12 organizaciones territoriales de base (OTBs) para planificar el proyecto.

Decidieron plantar √°rboles a lo largo del Waych’a Mayu, que a√ļn conservaba algunos bosques remanentes de √°rboles de secano, como molle y jarka. La poblaci√≥n local hab√≠a visto algunos de los largos parques arboleados de las zonas m√°s antiguas de Cochabamba. Estaban entusiasmados con la idea de tener un cintur√≥n verde de cinco kil√≥metros que atravesara sus barrios de ellos. Alain y Ariel, con la ONG Pro H√°bitat, produjeron 2.400 plantines de √°rboles en coordinaci√≥n con la Escuela de Ciencias Forestales (ESFOR-UMSS). Los vecinos cavaron los hoyos, plantaron los √°rboles y construyeron peque√Īos cercos protectores alrededor de cada uno.

Los √°rboles se plantaron en enero. En julio, Ana y yo fuimos con unas 20 personas de algunas de las OTBs a ver c√≥mo iban los plantines. Cuando llegamos a la l√≠nea de √°rboles, Ariel nos dijo que los √°rboles hab√≠an duplicado su tama√Īo en s√≥lo seis meses. El 80% hab√≠a sobrevivido. Pero ahora hab√≠a que mantenerlos. Ha sido un a√Īo seco y no ha llovido en cinco meses. Los √°rboles empezaban a marchitarse. Aun as√≠, Ariel anim√≥ a la gente diciendo que “el mantenimiento es m√°s importante que el agua”. Quer√≠a decir que, aunque los √°rboles necesitaban agua, tambi√©n hab√≠a que protegerlos. Es importante asegurar a la gente que no tendr√° que gastar dinero en agua. Muchos habitantes de Sacaba tienen que comprar el agua. Mientras nos reun√≠amos, camiones cisterna recorr√≠an las calles ofreciendo 200 litros de agua por 7 bolivianos (1 d√≥lar).

Entre los plantines hay algunos limones resistentes, pero la mayoría de las demás especies son árboles nativos de secano: guayaba, chacatea, jacarandá, tara, tipa y ceibo.

Ariel usó una picota y una pala para mostrar al grupo cómo limpiar una media luna alrededor de los árboles, para recoger el agua de lluvia. Tiene un doctorado, pero parece que le encanta el trabajo físico.

Ariel cortó el monte de alrededor del primer árbol y colocó la challa alrededor de la base del tronco, para dar sombra al suelo. Los representantes de las OTB, entre ellos un jubilado y una mujer con un bebé a cuestas, acordaron rápidamente reunirse una semana más tarde y traer a más gente de cada barrio para ayudar a cuidar los árboles.

Ana y yo volvimos el s√°bado siguiente. Un banco boliviano hab√≠a pagado un cami√≥n cisterna de agua (16.000 litros, por valor de unos 300 Bolivianos‚ÄĒ44 d√≥lares). Me sorprendi√≥ la cantidad de gente que acudi√≥, hasta quince o veinte en algunas OTBs. Usaron sus propias palas y picotas para limpiar r√°pidamente el agujero alrededor de cada √°rbol. Luego esperaron a que el cami√≥n cisterna llenara sus barriles para que los vecinos pudieran dar a cada √°rbol sediento un cubo lleno de agua. Ariel explic√≥ que un poco de agua el primer a√Īo ayudar√≠a a los √°rboles a recuperarse del shock de ser trasplantados, y que despu√©s deber√≠an sobrevivir normalmente con el agua de lluvia. Los vecinos estaban empezando a cuidar a los arbolitos. Algunos nos contaron que de vez en cuando echaban un cubo de agua reciclada en los √°rboles cercanos a sus casas.

Ariel es tambi√©n profesor universitario, y algunos de sus alumnos hab√≠an venido a ayudar a asesorar a los lugare√Īos. Pero los residentes hicieron la mayor parte del trabajo, y en la mayor√≠a de las OTBs los √°rboles pronto estaban limpiados y listos para ser regados.

La gente se ha asentado en Sacaba de toda la parte alta de Bolivia, de Oruro, La Paz, Potos√≠ y zonas rurales de Cochabamba. Se han organizado en OTBs, lo que ha permitido a Alain y Ariel trabajar con ellos para planificar el cintur√≥n verde y plantar los √°rboles. El celular tambi√©n ayuda. Hace unos a√Īos, la gente ten√≠a que ser invitada por un dirigente local que iba puerta en puerta. En los pocos barrios donde no aparec√≠a nadie, Alain telefoneaba al dirigente de la OTB, que llamaba a los vecinos. A veces, media hora despu√©s de la primera llamada, la gente ya estaba cavando los agujeros alrededor de cada √°rbol.

En las ciudades de r√°pido crecimiento del mundo en v√≠as del desarrollo, muchos de los nuevos residentes vienen de comunidades agr√≠colas y tienen conocimientos rurales, √ļtiles a la hora de plantar √°rboles. Sus nuevos barrios ser√°n lugares mucho m√°s agradables para vivir si tienen √°rboles. Ojal√° que, como demuestra este caso, las especies arb√≥reas se adapten bien al ambiente local y la gente local sea empoderada para adue√Īarse de sus √°reas verdes.

Agradecimientos

Gracias a Alain Vimercati y Ariel Ayma de Pro H√°bitat, y a todos los vecinos que plantan y cuidan sus √°rboles.

Nombres científicos

Molle Schinus molle

Jarka Parasenegalia visco (antes Acacia visco)

Guayaba Psidium guajava

Chacatea Dodonaea viscosa

Jacarand√° Jacaranda mimosifolia

Tara Caesalpinia spinosa

Tipa Tipuana tipu

Ceibo Erythrina crista-gall

También en el blog de Agro-Insight

The cherry on the pie

Experimentos con √°rboles

La manera correcta de distribuir los √°rboles

Videos sobre el cuidado de los √°rboles

Barreras vivas para proteger el suelo

Las plantas con flores atraen a los insectos que nos ayudan

Medias lunas

Regeneración manejada

 

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