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Khipu: A story tied in knots September 27th, 2020 by

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

Writing was linked to farming from the time of the first scribes, when Sumerian accountants made wedge-shaped marks in wet clay tablets to keep track of trade in grain and livestock. These numbers and symbols were first used around 5,000 BC as a simple notational system for counting sheep and jars of olive oil, eventually evolving into true writing by at least 3,500 BC as shown by recorded hymns and myths. Original writing systems were rare: only the Chinese and the Mesoamericans invented writing independently of the Sumerians.

All writing systems use a flat surface, and until factories made cheap paper in the nineteenth century, material to write on was a limitation. Clay was bulky. Stone was hard. Papyrus was expensive. Parchments from animal skins were so valuable that old ones were often scraped clean to write something new; the old text was often still visible and called a palimpsest. Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka took the trouble to write scriptures on palm leaves, painstakingly arranged in books, while rare Sanskrit manuscripts survive on birch bark.

High in the Andes, the Inka state was using its own system for recording data, based on a completely different medium: knotted twine, a technique that had been evolving since at least the time of the Wari Empire (450-1000 AD), long before the Inka (1400-1533). The multilingual empire of the Inka reached from Ecuador to Chile, with millions of subjects. Conquered communities paid tax to the empire, as textiles, and as maize and freeze-dried potatoes kept in storehouses (qollqa) and as a one-year labor turn every seven years (mit’a).

To tabulate all of these obligations, the empire used the khipu, knots on a string. The khipu maker (khipu kamayoq, or knot-master) started with long central cord, with secondary and tertiary twine fanning out from it like branches of a tree. Each string told a story. Meaning was distinguished by type of fiber (cotton vs llama hair), whether it was twisted left or right, by the type of knot, by a hundred different colors of twine and by the position of the knots.

Conquered nobles were forced to send their sons to live in the capital city, Cusco, where the boys took a four-year course on Inka myth and history, and on the official language (Quechua). Two years of their education were devoted to a study of the khipu.

The khipu was accurate enough to record the census data of a whole province, the soldiers of an army, or tax obligations. Knot-masters also used the khipus to help memorize and recite myths and narratives.

The Spanish conquistadores understood that khipus stored data accurately, and had them dictated and transcribed as sources of Inka history. Khipus were even allowed as evidence in colonial courts, where the litigants would argue over the ownership of land or titles, or sue for reimbursement for foodstuffs supplied to Spanish soldiers, as recorded in the knotted strings.

Knowledge of how to make a khipu died out a generation after the conquest, but Harvard anthropologist, Gary Urton, a specialist in the khipus, argues that they were not an adding machine (as some thought), nor were they true writing. They were however, a superb mnemonic device, perfectly accurate for recording exact numbers in the hundreds of thousands.

Moderately simple khipus could be interpreted on their own, without memorizing the content. The Inka organized a network of runners radiating out from Cusco across the realm. Each messenger (chaski) would run for about 20 km, before relaying his information to the next courier. A team could cover as much as 240 km a day, but perhaps 150 chaskis were needed to run from Quito to Cusco, some 2900 km. To avoid garbling their message entirely, each chaski handed the next one a khipu, which travelled independently of its maker, and must have been capable of bearing meaning alone.

I wonder what would have happened if the khipus had evolved for a much longer time? Given a few more centuries, would they have evolved into a full writing system to record human language, not with marks on a flat surface, but in three dimensions? It would have been a truly unique writing system, unlike any other the world has used.

Further reading

Urton¬īs study of the khipus is discussed at length in:

D’Altroy, Terence N. 2015. The Incas. New York: Wiley Blackwell. 547 pp.

Photo credit

Khipu on display at the Museo Larco, in Lima. Photo by Claus Ableiter.

Related blog stories

Stored crops of the Inka

Feeding the ancient Andean state

Feeding the Inca empire

Inka Raqay, up to the underworld

DESENREDANDO LA HISTORIA DEL KHIPU

Por Jeff Bentley, 27 de septiembre del 2020

La escritura estuvo vinculada a la agricultura desde los tiempos de los primeros escribas, cuando los contadores sumerios hac√≠an marcas en forma de cu√Īa en tablillas de arcilla h√ļmeda para llevar la cuenta del comercio de granos y ganado. Estos n√ļmeros y s√≠mbolos se usaron por primera vez alrededor del 5.000 a.C. como un simple sistema de anotaci√≥n para contar ovejas y c√°ntaros de aceite de oliva, que con el tiempo evolucion√≥ hasta convertirse en escritura verdadera por lo menos para el 3.500 a.C., como lo demuestran los himnos y mitos registrados. Los sistemas de escritura originales eran pocos: s√≥lo los chinos y los mesoamericanos inventaron la escritura independientemente de los sumerios.

Todos los sistemas de escritura usan una superficie plana, y hasta que las fábricas hacían papel barato en el siglo XIX, el material para escribir era una limitación. La arcilla era voluminosa. La piedra era dura. El papiro era caro. Los pergaminos de pieles de animales eran tan valiosos que los viejos a menudo se raspaban para escribir algo nuevo; el texto antiguo era a menudo todavía visible y se llamaba palimpsesto. Los monjes budistas de Sri Lanka se tomaban la molestia de escribir escrituras en hojas de palma, cuidadosamente dispuestas en libros, mientras que raros manuscritos sánscritos sobreviven en corteza de abedul.

En las alturas de los Andes, el estado Inca usaba su propio sistema de registro de datos, basado en un medio completamente diferente: el hilo anudado, una t√©cnica que hab√≠a estado evolucionando desde por lo menos la √©poca del Imperio Wari (450-1000 d.C.), mucho antes del Inka (1400-1533). El imperio multiling√ľe del Inca lleg√≥ desde Ecuador hasta Chile, con millones de s√ļbditos. Las comunidades conquistadas pagaban impuestos al imperio, en forma de textiles, ma√≠z y chu√Īo guardados en almacenes (qollqa) y como un turno de trabajo de un a√Īo cada siete a√Īos (mit’a).

Para tabular todas estas obligaciones, el imperio usaba el khipu, nudos en una cuerda. El entendido en la materia, el khipu kamayoq, o maestro de nudos, comenzó con un largo cordón central, con cuerdas secundarias y terciarias que se abrían en abanico como las ramas de un árbol. Cada cuerda contaba una historia. El significado se distinguía por el tipo de fibra (algodón vs pelo de llama), si se retorcía a la izquierda o a la derecha, por el tipo de nudo, por cien colores diferentes de hilo y por la posición de los nudos.

Los nobles conquistados eran obligados a enviar a sus hijos a vivir en la ciudad capital, Cusco, donde los muchachos tomaban un curso de cuatro a√Īos sobre el mito y la historia del Inca, y sobre el idioma oficial (el quechua). Dos a√Īos de su educaci√≥n se dedicaron al estudio del khipu.

El khipu era lo suficientemente preciso como para registrar los datos del censo de toda una provincia, los soldados de un ejército, o los impuestos. Los maestros de nudos también usaban los khipus para ayudar a memorizar y recitar mitos e historias.

Los conquistadores espa√Īoles entendieron que los khipus guardaban datos con precisi√≥n, y los hicieron dictar para transcribirlos como fuentes de la historia de los incas. Los khipus fueron incluso permitidos como evidencia en las cortes coloniales, donde los litigantes discut√≠an qui√©n era el due√Īo de tal terreno o t√≠tulo, o demandaban el reembolso de los alimentos suministrados a los soldados espa√Īoles, seg√ļn lo registrado en las cuerdas anudadas.

El conocimiento de c√≥mo hacer un khipu se extingui√≥ una generaci√≥n despu√©s de la conquista, pero el antrop√≥logo de Harvard, Gary Urton, especialista en los khipus, argumenta que no eran una m√°quina de sumar (como algunos pensaban), ni tampoco eran redacci√≥n. Sin embargo, eran un magn√≠fico dispositivo mnemot√©cnico, perfectamente preciso para registrar n√ļmeros exactos en los cientos de miles.

Los khipus moderadamente simples podían ser interpretados por sí mismos, sin memorizar el contenido. Los Incas organizaron una red de corredores que irradiaban desde Cusco a través del reino. Cada mensajero (chaski) correría durante unos 20 km, antes de transmitir su información al siguiente mensajero. Un equipo podía cubrir hasta 240 km al día, pero tal vez se necesitaban 150 chaskis para correr de Quito a Cusco, unos 2900 km. Para evitar tergiversar su mensaje por completo, cada chaski entregó al siguiente un khipu, que viajó solito, sin su creador, y debe haber sido capaz de llevar el significado por sí solo.

Me pregunto qu√© habr√≠a pasado si los khipus hubieran evolucionado durante mucho m√°s tiempo. Dados unos pocos siglos m√°s ¬Ņhabr√≠a evolucionado hacia un sistema de escritura completo para registrar el lenguaje humano, no con marcas en una superficie plana, sino en tres dimensiones? Habr√≠a sido un sistema de escritura verdaderamente √ļnico, como ning√ļn otro que el mundo haya usado.

Para leer m√°s

El estudio de Urton de los khipus est√° ampliamente descrito en:

D’Altroy, Terence N. 2015. The Incas. Nueva York: Wiley Blackwell. 547 pp.

Crédito de la foto

Khipu exhibido en el Museo Larco, en Lima. Foto por Claus Ableiter.

Relatos relacionados del blog

Stored crops of the Inka

Feeding the ancient Andean state

Alimentando al Imperio Incaico

Inka Raqay, up to the underworld

Digital African agriculture September 6th, 2020 by

In the report Byte by Byte, seventeen African and international experts shed some optimistic light on the digital future of agriculture in Africa. In many ways, the continent is ahead of other regions of the world.

Africa is leading the world in cell phone finance. In Kenya in 2007, Vodaphone started M-Pesa for the mobile network operator, Safaricom. M-Pesa, (from ‚ÄúM‚ÄĚ for mobile, and ‚Äúpesa,‚ÄĚ the Kiswahili word for money) offers simple financial services on the phone. Customers go to a small shop to exchange cash for online money which they can save or send to anyone else in Kenya who has a mobile phone. It is an effective way for rural and poor people to send and receive money. People in the city can send cash back home, to invest in agriculture, for example.

M-Pesa was so popular that mobile money has been replicated in Malawi, Uganda and many other African countries. Rural Africans who were underserved by banks were able to make use of the little shops that sprang up all over the small towns and in peri-urban neighborhoods.

Mobile finance is not the only innovative digital service in Africa. Other companies are offering tractor services online. TROTRO Tractor is a platform in Ghana that allows farmers to hire a tractor (and a driver), like getting a ride from Uber. Other companies use cell phones to sell agricultural supplies, or to connect farmers to buyers of agricultural produce. The largest telecommunications company in Zimbabwe has been providing weather insurance to farmers on a mobile platform since 2013. The National Network of Chambers of Agriculture of Niger (RECA) has been providing commodity price information online to farmers since 2011.

The Third Eye project in Mozambique has used drones to get an aerial view of farmers’ fields, and make recommendations on irrigation for 2,800 smallholder farmers, mostly women.

Digital technology makes sense for Africa, which has a young population. Young Africans like digital technology as much as youth on other continents. One advantage is that phones are also relatively inexpensive in Africa. I’ve seen smartphones for sale in Kenya for under $40. There are some limitations. Airtime tends to be expensive in Africa, and only about half of the population is on the electric grid.

Many Africans work around the lack of electricity, paying to charge their phones at weekly markets, barbershops or other small businesses when shopping in town. The popularity of cell phones has sparked a growing demand for small solar panels that are becoming a common site, propped up in the bright sunshine outside of an earthen house.

African farmers need appropriate new agricultural technology as well as digital devices. As more African households get online, it will be easier to reach them with digital extension, including videos.

Further reading

Malabo Montpellier Panel 2019. Byte by Byte: Policy Innovation for Transforming Africa’s. Food System with Digital Technologies, Dakar.

Related blog stories

Cell phones for smallholdersPay and learn

Pay and learn

Pay and learn July 19th, 2020 by

Vea la versi√≥n en espa√Īol a continuaci√≥n Extensionists often give information away for free, but selling it may get you a more tuned-in audience. This is the conclusion of researcher G√©rard Zoundji and colleagues in a recent paper published in Experimental Agriculture.

Zoundji compared three groups of people in West Africa who had received DVDs with farmer learning videos. One video collection covered topics related to vegetable production and another showed how to manage the parasitic weed striga. The videos could be shown in multiple local languages, or in English or French.

When NGOs in Benin gave the DVDs to organized farmers, they tended to watch the videos, and they experimented with planting styles and other ideas shown in the videos. But some farmers who got DVDs for free did not show the videos to friends and neighbors, complaining that they needed fuel for their generators, or other support.

Audience appreciation improved when DVDs were shared by NGOs that were committed to the topic and the communities. In Mali, organizations that had taught striga management realized the importance of the weed, and arranged screenings of the videos in villages. Professional staff from the NGOs were on hand to answer people’s questions after the show. The NGOs left copies of the DVD with local people who usually self-organized to watch the videos again later, to study the content. Farmers experimented keenly with the ideas they had learned, such as planting legumes between rows of cereal crops, to control striga naturally.

But the big payoff came when farmers bought the DVDs cold, off-the-shelf in shops. Most only paid a dollar or two for the DVDs on vegetable production, but buying the information gave it value. All of these paying customers watched the videos and most of them showed the videos at home to friends and neighbors. They found the agricultural ideas useful; some bought drip irrigation equipment they had seen on screen. Others learned to manage nematodes (microscopic worms) without chemical pesticides.

Farmers who bought the DVDs also experimented with the digital technology used to show the videos. Nearly 15% bought DVD players to watch the videos. Some loaned the DVDs to their children at university, who copied the DVDs from the disk, converted them to a phone-friendly format (3gp) and then loaded the videos onto the mobile devices of friends and colleagues.

Selling information draws a self-selected audience: interested people who will take the content seriously. Expert extensionists who appreciate the videos can also demonstrate their value by organizing video shows that respectfully engage with the communities and their leaders. But when DVDs are simply given away, even though they contain cinematic-quality videos on crucial topics, farmers may watch the videos and value them, or not. People who pay for information see its importance.

Further reading

Zoundji, G√©rard C., Florent Okry, Simplice D. Vodouh√™, Jeffery W. Bentley, and Loes Witteveen 2020 Commercial Channels vs Free Distribution and Screening of Learning Videos: A Case Study from Benin and Mali. Experimental Agriculture. DOI: 10.1017/S0014479720000149.  

Related blog stories

Private screenings

Call anytime

Sorghum and millets on the rise

Watch the videos

The 11 fighting striga videos

And the 9 vegetable videos:

Managing vegetable nematodes

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

PAGAR Y APRENDER

por Jeff Bentley, 19 de julio del 2020

Los extensionistas a menudo dan informaci√≥n gratis, pero se puede conseguir un p√ļblico m√°s atento si cobra. Esta es la conclusi√≥n del investigador G√©rard Zoundji y sus colegas en un reciente art√≠culo publicado en Experimental Agriculture.

Zoundji compar√≥ tres grupos de personas en √Āfrica occidental que hab√≠an recibido un DVD con videos de aprendizaje para agricultores. Hab√≠a una colecci√≥n de videos sobre la producci√≥n de hortalizas y otra del manejo de la estriga, una maleza paras√≠tica. Los videos pod√≠an mostrarse en varios idiomas locales, o en ingl√©s o franc√©s.

Cuando las ONGs de Benín entregaron los DVDs a los agricultores organizados, tendían a ver los videos y experimentar con los estilos de siembra y otras ideas que se apreciaban en los videos. Pero algunos agricultores que recibieron los DVDs gratis no mostraron los videos a amigos y vecinos, quejándose de que necesitaban combustible para sus generadores, u otro tipo de apoyo.

La apreciaci√≥n del p√ļblico mejor√≥ cuando los DVD fueron compartidos por ONGs comprometidas con el tema y las comunidades. En Mal√≠, las organizaciones que hab√≠an ense√Īado el manejo de la estriga se dieron cuenta de la importancia de la maleza y organizaron proyecciones de los videos en las aldeas. El personal profesional de las ONGs estaba disponible para responder a las preguntas de la gente despu√©s de la proyecci√≥n. Las ONGs dejaron copias del DVD con los habitantes locales, que por lo general se organizaron por su cuenta para volver a ver los videos m√°s tarde, para estudiar el contenido. Los agricultores experimentaron intensamente con las ideas que hab√≠an aprendido, como sembrar leguminosas entre los surcos de cereales, para controlar la estriga de forma natural.

Pero la gran recompensa era cuando los agricultores compraron los DVDs por su cuenta, en las tiendas. La mayoría sólo pagó un dólar o dos por los DVDs sobre las hortalizas, pero el comprar la información le dio valor. Todos los clientes que pagaron vieron los videos y la mayoría los mostraron en casa a amigos y vecinos. Les servían las ideas agrícolas; algunos compraron equipos de riego por goteo que habían visto en la pantalla. Otros aprendieron a manejar nematodos (gusanos microscópicos) sin plaguicidas químicos.

Los agricultores que compraron los DVDs también experimentaron con la tecnología digital que se usa para mostrar los videos. Casi el 15% compró lectores de DVD para ver los videos. Algunos prestaron los DVD a sus hijos en la universidad, quienes copiaron los videos del disco, los convirtieron a un formato apto para teléfonos (3gp) y luego cargaron los videos en los dispositivos móviles de amigos y colegas.

La venta de informaci√≥n atrae a un p√ļblico auto seleccionado: personas interesadas que se tomar√°n el contenido en serio. Los extensionistas expertos que aprecian los videos tambi√©n demuestran su valor organizando programas de video de forma respetuosa con las comunidades y sus l√≠deres. Pero cuando los DVDs se regalan as√≠ no m√°s, aunque contengan videos de calidad cinematogr√°fica sobre temas cruciales, los agricultores pueden ver los videos y valorarlos, o no. Las personas que pagan por la informaci√≥n aprecian su importancia.

Lectura adicional

Zoundji, G√©rard C., Florent Okry, Simplice D. Vodouh√™, Jeffery W. Bentley, and Loes Witteveen 2020 Commercial Channels vs Free Distribution and Screening of Learning Videos: A Case Study from Benin and Mali. Experimental Agriculture. DOI: 10.1017/S0014479720000149.  

Historias de blog sobre temas relacionados

Private screenings

Call anytime

Sorghum and millets on the rise

Vea los videos

Los 11 videos: fighting striga

De los cuales algunos est√°n en espa√Īol:

La micro dosis

Revivir el suelo con la mucuna

Animales, √°rboles y cultivos

Y los 9 videos sobre hortalizas:

El manejo de nematodos en hortalizas                

Redes contra insectos en alm√°cigo

Riego por goteo para el tomate

Revivir el suelo con la mucuna

Manejo de la fertilidad del suelo

Making a chilli seedbed

Transplanting chillies

Drying and storing chillies

Earthworms from India to Bolivia March 29th, 2020 by

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

A few weeks ago, I met a young Bolivian journalist, Edson Rodríguez, who works on an environmental program at the university (UMSS) television channel in Cochabamba called TVU. He helps to produce a show called Granizo Blanco (white hail), a dramatic name in this part of the Andes, where hail can devastate crops in a moment. The show covers all environmental issues, not just agriculture. For example, the program recently featured mud slides that have destroyed homes, and the impacts of a new metro train system in the valley.

I first met Edson in the field, where he was filming the tree seedling distribution that I wrote about earlier in this blog. Later, I told him about the agroecological videos on Access Agriculture.

Edson wondered if some of the videos on Access Agriculture might be suitable for the TV show. After watching some of the videos, he downloaded one on making compost with earthworms. The video was filmed in India, and it had recently been translated into Spanish, crucial for making videos more widely available. Without a Spanish version it wouldn’t be possible to consider showing a video from Maharashtra in Cochabamba. The two places are physically far apart, but they have much in common, such as a semi-arid climate, and small farms that produce crop residues and other organic waste that can be turned into compost.

Edson asked me to take part in an episode of Granizo Blanco that included a short interview followed by a screening of the compost and earthworm video. He was curious to know why Access Agriculture promotes videos of farmers in one country to show to smallholders elsewhere. I said that the farmers may differ in their skin color, clothing and hair styles, but they are working on similar problems. For example, farmers worldwide are struggling with crops contaminated with aflatoxins, poisons produced by fungi on improperly dried products like peanuts and maize.

I told Edson that farmer learning videos filmed in Bolivia are being used elsewhere. My colleagues and I made a video on managing aflatoxins in groundnuts, originally in Spanish, but since been translated into English, French and various African languages. The same aflatoxin occurs in Bolivia and in Burkina Faso, so African farmers can benefit from experience in South America. In this case the video shows simple ways to reduce aflatoxins in food, using improved drying and storage techniques developed by Bolivian scientists and farmers in Chuquisaca.

‚ÄúWhat other kinds of things can Bolivian farmers learn from their peers in other countries?‚ÄĚ Edson asked me, as he realized that good ideas can flow in both directions. I explained that soil fertility is a problem in parts of Bolivia and elsewhere; Access Agriculture has videos on cover crops, compost, conservation agriculture and may other ways to improve the soil, all freely available for programs such as Granizo Blanco to screen.

Many older people, especially those who work for governments, feel that videos have to be made in each country, and cannot be shared across borders. This closed vision makes little sense. The same civil servants happily organize and attend international conferences on agriculture and many other topics to share their own ideas across borders. If government functionaries can gain insights from foreign peers, farmers should be able to do so as well.

Fortunately, younger people like Edson are able to see the importance of media, such as learning videos that enable farmers to share knowledge and experience cross-culturally. Smallholders can swap ideas and stimulate innovations as long as the sound track is translated into a language they understand. It costs much less to translate a video than to make one.

Related blog

The right way to distribute trees

Translate to innovate

Aflatoxin videos for farmers

Related videos

Making a vemicompost bed (The earthworm video from India)

Managing aflatoxins in groundnuts during drying and storage

See also the links to soil conservation videos at the end of last week’s story: A revolution for our soil

Acknowledgment

The McKnight Foundation has generously funded many video translations, including the earthworm video, besides the filming of the aflatoxin video and its translation into several languages. For many years, SDC has offered crucial support that enabled Access Agriculture to become a global leader in South-South exchange through quality farmer-to-farmer training videos.

LOMBRICES DE TIERRA DE LA INDIA A BOLIVIA

Por Jeff Bentley 29 de marzo del 2020

Hace unas semanas conoc√≠ a un joven periodista boliviano, Edson Rodr√≠guez, que trabaja en un programa de medio ambiente en el canal de televisi√≥n, TVU, de la Universidad (UMSS) en Cochabamba. √Čl ayuda a producir un programa llamado Granizo Blanco, un nombre dram√°tico en esta parte de los Andes, donde el granizo puede arrasar los cultivos en un momento. El programa cubre todos los temas ambientales, no s√≥lo la agricultura. Por ejemplo, el programa recientemente present√≥ los deslizamientos de mazamorra que han destruido varias casas, y los impactos de un nuevo sistema de tren metropolitano en el valle.

Conocí a Edson por primera vez en el campo, donde él estaba filmando la distribución de plantines de árboles, el tema de un blog previo. Más tarde, le hablé de los videos agroecológicos en Access Agriculture.

Edson se preguntaba si algunos de los videos de Access Agriculture podr√≠an servir para el programa de televisi√≥n. Despu√©s de ver algunos de los videos, descarg√≥ uno sobre c√≥mo hacer abono con lombrices de tierra. El v√≠deo se film√≥ en la India y recientemente se hab√≠a traducido al espa√Īol, lo que era imprescindible para hacer los v√≠deos m√°s disponibles. Sin una versi√≥n en espa√Īol ser√≠a imposible mostrar un video de Maharashtra en Cochabamba. Los dos lugares est√°n f√≠sicamente alejados, pero tienen mucho en com√ļn, como un clima semi√°rido y peque√Īas granjas que producen residuos de cultivos y otros desechos org√°nicos que pueden convertirse en abono.

Edson me pidi√≥ que participara en un episodio de Granizo Blanco que inclu√≠a una breve entrevista seguida de una proyecci√≥n del v√≠deo de lombricultura. √Čl quer√≠a saber por qu√© Access Agriculture promueve videos de los agricultores de un pa√≠s para mostrarlos a los campesinos de otros pa√≠ses. Dije que los agricultores pueden diferir en el color de su piel, su ropa y peinado, pero est√°n trabajando en problemas similares. Por ejemplo, hay agricultores de todo el mundo que luchan con la contaminaci√≥n de aflatoxinas, venenos producidos por hongos en productos mal secados como el man√≠ y el ma√≠z.

Expliqu√© que los videos filmados con agricultores en Bolivia se est√°n usando en otros pa√≠ses. Mis colegas y yo hicimos un video sobre el manejo de las aflatoxinas en el man√≠, originalmente en espa√Īol, pero luego se ha traducido al ingl√©s, al franc√©s y a varios idiomas africanos. La misma aflatoxina se produce en Bolivia y en Burkina Faso, por lo que los agricultores africanos pueden beneficiarse de la experiencia en Am√©rica del Sur. En este caso, el v√≠deo muestra formas sencillas de reducir las aflatoxinas en los alimentos secos, desarrolladas por cient√≠ficos y agricultores bolivianos en Chuquisaca.

“¬ŅQu√© otro tipo de cosas pueden aprender los agricultores bolivianos de sus hom√≥logos de otros pa√≠ses?” Edson me pregunt√≥, al darse cuenta de que las buenas ideas pueden fluir en ambas direcciones. Le expliqu√© que la fertilidad del suelo es un problema en algunas partes de Bolivia y que afecta a muchos otros agricultores en otros lugares; Access Agriculture tiene videos sobre cultivos de cobertura, compost, agricultura de conservaci√≥n y muchas otras t√©cnicas para mejorar el suelo, todos disponibles gratuitamente para que programas como Granizo Blanco los proyecten.

Muchas personas mayores, especialmente las que trabajan para los gobiernos, consideran que los videos tienen que hacerse en cada pa√≠s y no pueden compartirse a trav√©s de las fronteras. Esta visi√≥n cerrada tiene poco sentido. Los mismos funcionarios p√ļblicos organizan y asisten con gusto a conferencias internacionales sobre agricultura y diversos temas para compartir sus propias ideas a trav√©s de las fronteras. Si los funcionarios del gobierno pueden obtener ideas de sus colegas extranjeros, los agricultores tambi√©n deber√≠an poder hacerlo.

Afortunadamente, los j√≥venes como Edson ven la importancia de los medios de comunicaci√≥n, como los v√≠deos, que permiten a los agricultores compartir conocimientos y experiencias entre culturas. Los peque√Īos agricultores pueden intercambiar ideas y estimular innovaciones siempre que la banda sonora se traduzca a un idioma que entiendan. Cuesta mucho menos traducir un video que hacer uno.

Historias relacionadas del blog

La manera correcta de distribuir los √°rboles

Translate to innovate

Aflatoxin videos for farmers

Videos relacionados

Hacer una lombricompostera (el video de la lombriz de tierra de la India)

Manejo de aflatoxinas en maní (también disponible en quechua y en aymara)

Vea también los enlaces a los videos de conservación del suelo al final de la historia de la semana pasada: Una revolución para nuestro suelo

Agradecimiento

La Fundaci√≥n McKnight ha financiado generosamente muchas traducciones de video, incluyendo el video de la lombriz, adem√°s de la filmaci√≥n del video de la aflatoxina y su traducci√≥n a varios idiomas. Durante muchos a√Īos, la Cosude ha ofrecido un apoyo crucial que ha permitido a Access Agriculture convertirse en un l√≠der mundial en el intercambio Sur-a-Sur a trav√©s de v√≠deos agricultor a agricultor.

The magic lantern January 12th, 2020 by

While listening to a recent broadcast on Belgium‚Äôs Radio 1 about the magic lantern and the ‚Äúlanternists‚ÄĚ who entertained paying audiences, I realised that some developments we think off as highly innovative may also be seen as a modification of something that existed hundreds of years ago. 

The magic lantern projected images on hand-painted glass slides using a lens with a light source, like a candle flame or oil lamp. The magic lantern was a great success from the 17th to the 19th century, after which it was replaced by cinema and only used by missionaries who used the most up-to-date lanterns and lenses to sway large audiences of up to 700 people.

Most historians credit the Dutch physicist Christiaan Huygens with the magic lantern’s invention in 1659 because he replaced images etched on mirrors from earlier devices, such as one called Kircher’s lantern, with images painted on glass. This allowed the use of colour and double-layered slide projections to simulate movement, which made for spectacular, detailed and entertaining magic lantern shows.

According to legend, the 17th century Jesuit priest, Kircher, came up with an inventive use of the lantern to convince his sceptical followers. On the glass of his lantern he had painted a realistic image of death, which he projected in the evening on simple farmhouses. The next Sunday morning his church was packed with standing room only. As Kircher was aware that some of his predecessors had been charged with sorcery for using projected images, seen as ‚Äúthe workings of the devil‚ÄĚ, Kircher was clever enough to demystify the show by explaining that it involved reflection and optics, not magic.

The magic lantern was not invented by any one individual, but very much came from several minds applied to new and different, ever-evolving ways of creating images to project on screens. Some magic lantern shows were quite sophisticated, using multiple lanterns or several lenses to improve magnification and clarity, or to dissolve one scene into another.

At first, the “lanternist,” as the projectionist was known, simply used a plain cotton or canvas sheet, or even just a wall, but the emergence of luminous painted glass slides ‚Äď with their bright colours and detailed images ‚Äď also spurred developments in screen technology. Cinema was born in the 1890s, and in the 1930s plastics started to replace cloth screens. Later, various coatings were used that gave the cinema its nickname, ‚Äúthe silver screen‚ÄĚ.

The silver screen may have wiped out the magic lanterns, but other devices were used over the twentieth century for education and entertainment. Small projectors with 8 mm film were used in schools and for “home movies.” Academic talks were often illustrated with overhead projectors and slides, while the DVD player and the projector that could be attached to the laptop brought videos to much wider audiences. In the 2000s, the Digisoft smart projector was the latest device for sharing sights and sounds with audiences of up to 200 people.

The “lanternist” earned money from organising shows, travelling from place to place with the projector in a box carried on his back. The concept of these early mobile screening entrepreneurs has recently been re-introduced by Access Agriculture, an international organisation that supports ecological farming in developing countries through farmer training videos (see the full video library at: www.accessagriculture.org).

While centuries ago, lanternists were adults, Access Agriculture has established a network of young, ICT-savvy, entrepreneurs who make a business from screening training videos to rural communities. Lanternists travelled from village to village with a small collection of glass slides. Today’s young entrepreneurs are equipped with a Digisoft smart projector, a foldable solar panel and a library of more than 200 videos, each one in multiple languages. The whole kit is small enough to take on a motorcycle, but casts an image large and sharp enough for a whole village. Being able to screen videos on demand, these young people bring entertainment and education to remote areas where there is no electricity or internet.

Like the old lanternists, the youth with their smart projectors are using the best technology of their day, but sharing down-to-earth ideas that family farmers need for a changing world.

Watch a young entrepreneur show videos in rural Africa

On the road with the smart projector in Uganda

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