WHO WE ARE SERVICES RESOURCES




Most recent stories ›
AgroInsight RSS feed
Blog

High Andean Climate Change February 10th, 2019 by

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

Recently Paul wrote about how people in Ch‚Äôoj√Īapata, a small village in the mountains high above Lake Titicaca, blend old and new ways of predicting the weather. While we were filming in the village, we also learned more about how climate change is affecting crops.

At this high altitude, 4250 meters above sea level, farmers grow bitter potato, or luk‚Äôi. This is related to the common potato, but a separate species, Solanum juzepcuzukii. Luk‚Äôi was domesticated in the Andes thousands of years ago and is well adapted to high altitudes and conditions which favor few other crops. Little else will grow in Ch‚Äôoj√Īapata besides luk‚Äôi potatoes and some pasture grasses where the villagers herd their alpacas on the steep slopes.

Veteran farmer Juan Mamani explained that in Ch‚Äôoj√Īapata it is now getting too warm to plant luk‚Äôi potatoes. And even when people can grow luk‚Äôi potatoes, it is no longer cold enough to properly process them. To make bitter potatoes edible, villagers have to freeze them outdoors for four nights. ‚ÄúNow, in mid-winter (June) when we would normally get a long freeze, it may only last one night, and when it then rains the luk‚Äôi rot.‚ÄĚ

Don Juan’s friend and neighbor, Celestino Laime, adds that the rains once came at predictable times. Now it can rain at any time, often with heavy downpours, making it difficult to farm.

There are other signs that the normal patterns of weather are changing. The farmers told us that the glaciers around them are disappearing. The mountains, once covered in solid white ice, are starting to turn grey. Now people can see the rocks appear as the ice melts and retreats.

The farmers are adapting, as they always do. With the warmer climate, folks in Ch‚Äôoj√Īapata are growing more of the common potatoes. It is not a perfect solution. They show us a potato field killed by summer frost. The bitter potatoes would have survived that cold snap.

Some people in northern, industrial countries are still denying climate change; villagers in the high Andes don’t have that luxury. They live with the changing climate and worry about it every day.

Related blogs

Three generations of knowledge

Death of the third flowers

Harsh and healthy

Acknowledgements

We were accompanied on this trip by Ing. Edwin Yucra, a professor at the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés. We thank Edwin for being generous with his time and his knowledge. His work is funded in part by the Collaborative Crop Research Program of the McKnight Foundation.

CAMBIO CLIM√ĀTICO ALTOANDINO

Por Jeff Bentley, 10 de febrero del 2019

Recientemente Paul escribi√≥ acerca de c√≥mo la gente en Ch’oj√Īapata, un peque√Īo pueblo en las monta√Īas en lo alto del Lago Titicaca, mezcla viejas y nuevas formas de predecir el tiempo. Mientras film√°bamos en la comunidad, tambi√©n aprendimos m√°s sobre c√≥mo el cambio clim√°tico est√° afectando a los cultivos.

A esta altitud, 4.250 metros sobre el nivel del mar, los agricultores cultivan papa amarga, o luk’i, que es pariente de la papa com√ļn, pero es una especie separada, Solanum juzepcuzukii. La papa luk’i fue domesticada en los Andes hace miles de a√Īos y est√° bien adaptada a las alturas y a las condiciones donde pocos cultivos crecen. En Ch’oj√Īapata nada m√°s crece adem√°s de papas y algunos pastos donde la gente pasta sus alpacas en las laderas.

El veterano agricultor Juan Mamani nos cont√≥ que ahora en Ch’oj√Īapata hace mucho calor para sembrar papas luk’i. Y aun cuando la gente puede cultivar luk’i, ya no hace suficiente fr√≠o para procesarlo bien. Para que el luk‚Äôi sea comestible, hay que congelarlos al aire libre durante cuatro noches. “Ahora, en el invierno (junio), cuando sab√≠amos tener una buena helada, puede helar s√≥lo una noche, y cuando llueve el luk’i se pudre.”

El amigo y vecino de don Juan, Celestino Laime, agrega que antes, las lluvias llegaban en su debido momento. Ahora puede llover en cualquier momento, a menudo con fuertes lluvias, y es difícil sembrar.

Hay otras se√Īales de que los patrones normales del clima est√°n cambiando. Los agricultores nos dijeron que los glaciares que los rodean est√°n desapareciendo. Los cerros, antes tapados de hielo blanco s√≥lido, empiezan a ponerse color plomo. Ahora la gente ve que las piedras aparecen a medida que el hielo se derrite y se retira.

Los agricultores se est√°n adaptando, como siempre lo hacen. Con el clima m√°s c√°lido, la gente de Ch’oj√Īapata est√° cultivando m√°s papas comunes. No es una soluci√≥n perfecta. Nos muestran un campo de papas muertas por heladas que antes no ab√≠an en el verano. Las papas luk‚Äôis hubieran sobrevivido a esa ola de fr√≠o.

Algunas personas en los países del norte siguen negando el cambio climático; la gente rural andina no tiene ese lujo. Ellos viven con el cambio climático y se preocupan por ello todos los días.

Blogs relacionados

Three generations of knowledge

De t’olas y papas

Harsh and healthy

Agradecimientos

En este viaje nos acompa√Ī√≥ el Ing. Edwin Yucra, catedr√°tico de la Universidad Mayor de San Andr√©s. Agradecemos a Edwin por ser generoso con su tiempo y su conocimiento. Su trabajo es financiado en parte por el Programa Colaborativo de Investigaci√≥n de Cultivos de la Fundaci√≥n McKnight.

Three generations of knowledge January 20th, 2019 by

‚ÄúAs a youth I planted a little and my grandparents told me nothing about these bioindicators. My potatoes had a lot of worms. I was discouraged and decided to seek another life,‚ÄĚ said don Miguel Ortega when we visited his farm a while ago in Voloco village. Now in his mid 40s don Miguel runs a prosperous organic farm in the Northern Altiplano of Bolivia (see also our previous blog: Harsh and healthy).

During his interview in front of the camera, don Miguel explained why he returned to his home village and picked up farming again: ‚ÄúBecause when you work in a company, coming on time, leaving on time it is a form of slavery. So now that I work for myself I am a free man.‚ÄĚ

In the meantime, don Miguel is one of the 70 Yapuchiris, expert farmers who shares his knowledge with his peers and anyone who is interested in learning from nature and learning about healthy farming. But to become an expert farmer who can predict the weather based on observing plants, animals and insects has not been easy. The elders in the village were not forthcoming with sharing their knowledge about natural indicators, as don Miguel explained:

‚ÄúWhen I asked the elders, they said ‚Äúin this way.‚ÄĚ But you do not ask them just like that with the mouth empty. You have to give them a little soft drink. I managed it this way. I did not pick up a piece of paper at that moment. I held it in my mind. I held it in my mind and when I arrived home, I wrote it on paper. That is how I worked. By questioning. If we would pick up a sheet of paper and write they would not want to tell us everything.‚ÄĚ

Five days after meeting with don Miguel, we drive to the village of Ch‚Äôoj√Īapata, at an altitude of 4,250 meters. We interview Mery Mamani, who is in her early 20s. She runs a little shop where she sells soft drinks, beer and home-made cheese. Although we planned to interview her about an app that forecasts the weather, it soon became clear that this young woman had much more to tell us.

Full of energy she guides us down the steep slopes to a valley behind her house. A pretty cactus with red flowers, called sank‚Äôayu in the local Aymara language, is what she wants to show us. ‚ÄúThe app is great to tell us which day it will freeze or rain in the coming days, but this cactus tells us when is the best time to plant potatoes,‚ÄĚ she said.

While Marcella films Mery in her little shop, she opens WhatsApp on her smart phone and shows photo after photo of various plants, mainly cactuses. All are bioindicators (see previous blog stories below that define ‚Äúbioindicator‚ÄĚ). Mery is clearly interested in making the right decisions on when to plant and do the other activities on her farm and she cleverly combines knowledge from the past with modern forecasting. Youth like Meri who remain in the countryside, and who are interested in ancestral knowledge can share those ideas and their observations with peers in other communities and other parts of the country. New communication devices can keep old knowledge alive.

Watch or download the videos from the Access Agriculture video platform in the coming month

Recording the weather

Weather forecasting

Related blogs

Reading the mole hills

Death of the third flowers

Cultivating pride in the Andes

Farmers produce electronic content

Forty farmer innovations

Acknowledgement

The videos on live barriers and weather forecasting have been developed with funding from the McKnight Foundation‚Äôs Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP). Thanks to Sonia Laura, Edwin Chiara and colleagues from PROSUCO for introducing us to don Miguel and his family, and for providing background information, and to Edwin Yucra from UMSA for introducing us to farmers in Ch‚Äôoj√Īapata.

Death of the third flowers January 13th, 2019 by

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

Uncertainty is a way of life for farmers.  But the better they can predict what’s going to happen, the more successfully they will adapt. One of the main uncertainties is the weather, particularly in harsh environments like the Bolivian Altiplano, the high plains, where the periods and patterns of rain, hail and frost are different each year. Miguel Ortega, Enrique Huallpa and Constantino Franco explained to me last December how they try to forecast what is going to happen by observing when the t’ola plant flowers. They live in the municipality of Waldo Ballivián, in the Altiplano, where the t’ola plant usually flowers in three bursts in August. According to Miguel, Enrique and Constantino each of these three blooms indicates what the frosts will be like later in November. The farmers then use this information to schedule potato planting.

These farmers of the southern hemisphere plant potatoes three times in the springtime between August and late September, roughly one or two weeks apart.

As don Bernabé, another local farmer, explained in last week’s blog, if the flowers get wet from the rain, they die. Which flowers survive the rains of August foretells which potatoes will survive the frosts of November. Or so farmers like Miguel, Enrique and Constantino believe. But is this happenstance? Or maybe even wishful thinking? Another explanation is that a lifetime of living in the elements has given observant rural people the skills to predict the weather.

Miguel Ortega is a yapuchiri or farmer extensionist, and one of his jobs is to share information with other farmers. In 2018, don Miguel told his neighbors that there would be a frost late in the spring because he had seen that the third flowering of the t’ola had withered. Not everyone listened. When it froze, on the last two nights of November, some people lost the potatoes that they had planted late. Don Miguel had planted early, and he avoided the frost.

Modern meteorology can tell farmers relatively little about the weather two months away. Being able to forecast crucial weather events two months in the future is a crucial survival skill for smallholders who must rely on their own knowledge to plan their crop every year.

Related blog stories

Harsh and healthy

Cultivating pride in the Andes

 

DE T’OLAS Y PAPAS

Jeff Bentley, 13 de enero del 2014

Los campesinos conviven con la incertidumbre.¬† Pero cuanto mejor puedan predecir lo que va a pasar, mejor se adaptar√°n. Una de las principales incertidumbres es el clima, particularmente en ambientes hostiles como el Altiplano boliviano, donde los per√≠odos y patrones de la lluvia, del granizo y de las heladas son diferentes cada a√Īo. Miguel Ortega, Enrique Huallpa y Constantino Franco me explicaron el pasado mes de diciembre c√≥mo intentan pronosticar lo que va a pasar observando cu√°ndo florece una planta, la t’ola. Viven en el municipio de Waldo Ballivi√°n, en el Altiplano, donde la t’ola florece tres veces en agosto. Seg√ļn don Miguel, don Enrique y don Constantino, cada una de estas tres floraciones indica c√≥mo ser√°n las heladas a finales de noviembre. Los agricultores usan esta informaci√≥n para programar la siembra de papas.

Estos agricultores del hemisferio sur siembran sus papas tres veces en primavera, entre agosto y finales de septiembre, con una o dos semanas de diferencia.

Como explic√≥ don Bernab√©, otro agricultor del Altiplano, en el blog de la semana pasada, si las flores se mojan por la lluvia, mueren. Las flores que sobreviven a las lluvias de agosto pronostican qu√© papas sobrevivir√°n a las heladas de noviembre. O eso creen los agricultores como don Miguel, don Enrique y don Constantino. Pero, ¬Ņes esto una casualidad? ¬ŅO hasta una ilusi√≥n? Otra explicaci√≥n es que la gente rural es observante, y despu√©s de toda una vida viviendo en los elementos, han desarrollado las habilidades para predecir el tiempo.

Miguel Ortega es un yapuchiri o extensionista agr√≠cola, y uno de sus trabajos es compartir informaci√≥n con otros agricultores. En el 2018, don Miguel dijo a sus vecinos que habr√≠a una helada a finales de la primavera porque hab√≠a visto que la tercera floraci√≥n del t’ola se hab√≠a marchitado. No todos escucharon. Cuando se congel√≥, en las √ļltimas dos noches de noviembre, algunas personas perdieron las papas que hab√≠an plantado tarde. Don Miguel hab√≠a plantado temprano, y evit√≥ la helada.

La meteorolog√≠a moderna puede informar relativamente poco a los agricultores sobre el tiempo a dos meses de distancia. Poder pronosticar eventos clim√°ticos cruciales dos meses en el futuro es una habilidad crucial para la supervivencia de los peque√Īos agricultores que deben confiar en sus propios conocimientos para planificar sus cultivos cada a√Īo.

Historias de blogs relacionadas

Harsh and healthy

Cultivando orgullo en los Andes

Reading the mole hills January 6th, 2019 by

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

Smallholders constantly read the landscape for clues on how the year will go. Farmers’ weather knowledge guides them as they make decisions early in the year.  Predictions about when it will rain and how much let farmers know if they should plant early or late, or if they should prepare the low-lying fields or the high and dry ones.  Scientific weather forecasts are pretty accurate for up to a week, but less so for the next several months, which is what one needs to know when planning a crop.

I had heard about local weather forecasting before, but recently appreciated how farmers read natural signs of weather as a whole system of mutually reinforcing information. Farmers don’t read the weather indicators in isolation; each sign of nature reconfirms and supports the others.

While filming a video recently with Paul, Marcella and our colleagues from Prosuco, we visited Bernabé Choquetopa, an expert Aymara farmer of the southern Bolivian Altiplano, as he showed us several of the weather indicators he uses near his farm in Aroma, Oruro. It was November, early summer in the southern hemisphere, and all the signs suggested that it was going to be a dry year, with fairly low crop yields.

Don Bernabé showed us a bush, the t’ola, or khiruta (discussed in last week’s blog). He explained that the bush typically flowers in September and October. If the bush fills with yellow flowers, it will be a good year for his crops. But if early rains damage the bush’s blossoms in October, then his crops will suffer and yields will be low in March. Don Bernabé showed us how the khiruta on his farm was not flowering very well, predicting a poor year.

Bernab√© doesn‚Äôt rely only on the khirtu flowers for his forecasts. At a small stream he showed us the moss floating on the water. He has observed that when the moss is green in November, there will soon be abundant rains, but this year the moss was brown, except for one small green spot. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs worrying,‚ÄĚ don Bernab√© said. ‚ÄúThe rain will be irregular and it may not start until the end of January.‚ÄĚ

But I was most impressed by don Bernab√©‚Äôs observations of moles, called ‚Äútuju‚ÄĚ in Aymara, which dig their burrows along the river bank. Don Bernab√© showed us the openings to the mole‚Äôs nests, in the moist, sandy soil. Then he pointed out the highwater mark from the previous year. There was a line of sticks and bits of wood left high on the bank by last year‚Äôs flood water. This year, the moles were digging their burrows well below that line, not far above the level of the current, dry season water. Like the moss and the khiruta, the moles were predicting a dry year‚ÄĒnot very good for the quinoa crop.

The moles are intriguing, because like the people, many animals also need to forecast the rains, for example, to know where to build their nests. An individual mole that could somehow foretell the water level would have an adaptive advantage. The moles that could anticipate the water level would be selected for.

This folk meteorology could and should be scientifically validated. The method would be easy enough: document local forecasts and then record the weather over the year and compare the outcomes to the predictions. My colleagues at Prosuco in Bolivia are now doing this important research, in full collaboration with the expert farmers who know how to predict the weather. Don Bernabé for his part is writing a book to keep his vital knowledge alive.

Previous blog story

To see the future

Scientific name

The tuju is not really a mole; it is the highland tuco-tuco, Ctenomys opimus, a rodent of the Ctenomydae family.

LEYENDO EL NIDO DEL TOPO

Por Jeff Bentley, 6 de enero del 2019

Los campesinos leen el paisaje constantemente para encontrar pistas sobre c√≥mo va a ir el a√Īo. Los conocimientos meteorol√≥gicos de los agricultores los gu√≠an en la toma de decisiones a principios de a√Īo.¬† En base a predicciones sobre cu√°ndo y cu√°nto va a llover los agricultores saben si deben sembrar tarde o temprano, o si deben preparar sus chacras bajas o las tierras altas y secas.¬† Los pron√≥sticos cient√≠ficos del tiempo son bastante precisos hasta para una semana, pero menos para los pr√≥ximos meses, que es lo que se necesita saber al planificar un cultivo.

Yo ya hab√≠a o√≠do hablar de los pron√≥sticos locales, pero hace poco pude apreciar c√≥mo los agricultores leen las se√Īales naturales del tiempo como un sistema integral de informaci√≥n que se refuerza mutuamente. Los agricultores no leen los indicadores meteorol√≥gicos de forma aislada; cada se√Īa de la naturaleza reconfirma y apoya a las dem√°s.

Mientras film√°bamos un video con Paul, Marcella y nuestros colegas de Prosuco, visitamos a Bernab√© Choquetopa, un experto agricultor aymara del sur del Altiplano boliviano, quien nos mostr√≥ varios de los indicadores naturales que √©l usa cerca de su casa en Aroma, Oruro. Era noviembre, principios del verano en el hemisferio sur, y todas las se√Īales indicaban que iba a ser un a√Īo seco, con cosechas bajas.

Don Bernab√© nos mostr√≥ un arbusto, el t’ola, o khiruta (discutido en el blog de la semana pasada). Explic√≥ que el arbusto suele florecer en septiembre y octubre. Si el arbusto se llena de flores amarillas, ser√° un buen a√Īo para sus cosechas. Pero si las lluvias tempranas da√Īan las flores del arbusto en octubre, entonces sus cosechas se ver√°n afectadas y los rendimientos ser√°n bajos en marzo. Don Bernab√© nos mostr√≥ c√≥mo el khiruta en su lugar no estaba floreciendo muy bien, prediciendo un mal a√Īo.

Bernab√© no conf√≠a s√≥lo en las flores de khirtu para sus pron√≥sticos. En una peque√Īa quebrada nos mostr√≥ el musgo flotando en el agua. √Čl ha observado que cuando el musgo est√© verde en noviembre, pronto habr√° abundantes lluvias, pero este a√Īo el musgo era color caf√©, excepto por una peque√Īa mancha verde. “Es preocupante”, dijo don Bernab√©. “La lluvia ser√° irregular y puede que no empiece hasta finales de enero.‚ÄĚ

Pero me impresionaron mucho las observaciones de don Bernab√© de los topos, llamados “tuju” en aymara, que excavan sus madrigueras cerca de la orilla del r√≠o. Don Bernab√© nos mostr√≥ las puertas de los nidos de los topos, en el suelo h√ļmedo y arenoso. Luego se√Īal√≥ la marca de agua alta del a√Īo anterior. Hab√≠a una l√≠nea de palos y trozos de madera en lo alto de la orilla por el agua de la inundaci√≥n del a√Īo pasado. Este a√Īo, los topos estaban cavando sus nidos muy por debajo de esa l√≠nea, no muy por encima del nivel del agua actual de la √©poca seca. Al igual que el musgo y el khiruta, los topos predijeron un a√Īo seco, no muy bueno para el cultivo de quinua.

Los topos me intrigaban, porque al igual que la gente, muchos animales también necesitan pronosticar las lluvias, por ejemplo, para saber dónde construir sus nidos. Un topo individual que de alguna manera pudiera predecir el nivel del agua tendría una ventaja adaptativa. Se seleccionarían los topos que podrían anticipar el nivel del agua.

Esta meteorolog√≠a popular podr√≠a y deber√≠a ser validada cient√≠ficamente. El m√©todo ser√≠a bastante f√°cil: documentar los pron√≥sticos locales y luego registrar el tiempo a lo largo del a√Īo y comparar los resultados con las predicciones. Mis colegas de Prosuco en Bolivia est√°n haciendo esta importante investigaci√≥n, en plena colaboraci√≥n con los agricultores que saben leer las se√Īas de la naturaleza. Don Bernab√©, por su parte, est√° escribiendo un libro para mantener vivos sus conocimientos vitales.

Previa historia del blog

Para ver el futuro

Nombre científico

El tuju no es un topo de verdad, sino el tuco-tuco de la puna, Ctenomys opimus, un roedor de la familia Ctenomydae.

Cultivating pride in the Andes November 4th, 2018 by

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

‚ÄúWhen we first started working with these innovative farmers, they were embarrassed to list ‚Äėfarmer‚Äô as their occupation on their national ID card.‚ÄĚ Mar√≠a Quispe, head of a Bolivian NGO called Prosuco, reminded a large crowd of villagers and visitors in the village of Cutusuma, La Paz.

Last week yapuchiris from many communities along with the famers in Cutusuma were celebrating the launch of a new book about themselves, published by Prosuco, with Swiss support.

Swiss diplomats, local people and government officials took turns at the microphone to express their pride in the changes over the years. A national TV station, Channel 7, was recording the event while a professional broadcaster from Radio San Gabriel in El Alto moderated the event in Aymara, a native language of the High Andes.

Food was served as an aphtapi, an old buffet style that is making a comeback in Bolivia. Boiled native potatoes, chu√Īo, broad beans and oca are wrapped in wool blankets, then spread out on the earth or on a table. Diners serve themselves. Most put the food in little plastic bags saved from their last trip to the shop. It‚Äôs an Andean lunch with attitude, and it saves on plastic plates.

There was also dancing to Andean flute music; the local High School marching band belted out the national anthem with confidence and enthusiasm.

The striking feature of the book launch was that no one seemed ashamed to be a farmer anymore. It had been a long trip. The book, printed on high quality paper and illustrated with professional photography, explained that in 2004, Prosuco had set out to train innovative farmers as extension agents. One of the first steps was to give these innovative farmers a name. They settled on ‚Äúyapuchiri,‚ÄĚ an Aymara word for ‚Äúfarmer.‚ÄĚ Calling the new expert farmers ‚Äúyapuchiris‚ÄĚ was a way of saying that farming was an important job. During the next 14 years, yapuchiris were trained all over the Altiplano as well as the valleys of Chuquisaca. Seventy of them were certified as ‚ÄúYapuchiri Community Facilitators‚ÄĚ by the Vice-Ministry of Alternative Education (such an original and creative name for a branch of government).

The book explains how the yapuchiris and Prosuco tried new ideas on farms, adapting several organic fertilizers, such as bokashi and biol, to local conditions, along with mineral mixes and natural repellents. Non-chemical controls of Andean potato weevil were also adapted to local conditions.

The book has numerical data to show that the yapuchiris’ yields are higher than those of other farmers and higher than those achieved by farmers who received conventional agricultural training. This is important, as organic agriculture is often dismissed (famously by The Economist in 2016) as low yielding and incapable of feeding the World’s growing population.

Over the years, the yapuchiris developed the Pachagrama, a large chart for listing the yapuchiris’ weather forecast, while planning and documenting the year’s weather as it unfolds, day by day. We have discussed the Pachagrama in earlier blogs To see the future, and  Predicting the weather. The yapuchiris started the Pachagrama as a table with some drawings, then refined it over the years.

At first, some of the yapuchiris‚Äô neighbors scoffed at the idea of farmers as extensionists, saying that they wanted a real agronomist to train them. But eventually the yapuchiris convinced the others and were able to work with up to 50% of the farmers in their own villages. As Mark Twain put it, ‚Äúan expert is someone with a brief case who is 50 miles from home.‚ÄĚ

In fact, it can be an advantage to offer advisory services ‚Äú50 miles (70 km) from home‚ÄĚ. Projects began hiring yapuchiris to teach other communities. The yapuchiris crisscrossed the Altiplano, promoting productive, organic agriculture to appreciative audiences.

It is foolish of anyone to denigrate the people who feed us and care for the land. Building pride in a profession takes time and creating a more productive, sustainable agriculture is only part of it. Twelve years of support and training were important to develop a cadre of self-confident yapuchiris. Events with music, speeches and a splendid lunch also help to display that confidence while books in an attractive format also help to show how the work evolved over the years.

The book

Quispe, María, Eleodoro Baldiviezo and Sonia Laura 2018 Yapuchiris: Un Legado para Afrontar los Impactos del Cambio Climático. La Paz: Prosuco, Cosude & Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation.

Blog stories about yapuchiris

Inspiration from Bangladesh to Bolivia

Farmers produce electronic content

Forty farmer innovations

Acknowledgement  

Thanks to María Quispe, Eleodoro Baldiviezo, Sonia Laura, Eric Boa and Paul Van Mele for their comments on an earlier version.

CULTIVANDO ORGULLO EN LOS ANDES

por Jeff Bentley, 4 de noviembre del 2018

“Cuando empezamos a trabajar con estos agricultores innovadores, les daba verg√ľenza poner ‘agricultor’ como su oficio en su carnet.” Mar√≠a Quispe, directora de una ONG boliviana llamada Prosuco, record√≥ a una gran multitud de campesinos y visitantes en la comunidad de Cutusuma, La Paz.

La semana pasada, Yapuchiris de diferentes comunidades junto con los agricultores de Cutusuma celebraron el lanzamiento de un nuevo libro sobre s√≠ mismos, publicado por Prosuco, con el apoyo suizo. Los diplom√°ticos suizos, la poblaci√≥n local y los funcionarios del gobierno se turnaron al micr√≥fono para expresar su orgullo por los cambios a lo largo de los a√Īos. Una televisi√≥n nacional, Canal 7, grababa el evento mientras que una locutora profesional de Radio San Gabriel de El Alto moderaba el evento en aymara, un idioma nativo de los Andes Altos.

La comida fue servida como un aphtapi, un antiguo estilo de buffet que de nuevo se est√° poniendo de moda en Bolivia. Las papas nativas cocidas, el chu√Īo, las habas y la oca son colocadas en aguayos de lana y se extienden sobre la tierra o sobre una mesa. Los comensales se sirven solos. La mayor√≠a pone la comida en peque√Īas bolsas de pl√°stico guardadas de su √ļltima visita a la tienda. Es un almuerzo andino con actitud, y ahorra en platos de pl√°stico.

Tambi√©n hubo baile con m√ļsica de flauta andina; la banda del colegio local enton√≥ el himno nacional con confianza y entusiasmo.

Al presentar el libro ya era claro que a nadie le apenaba ser agricultor. Hab√≠a sido un largo viaje. El libro, impreso en papel de alta calidad e ilustrado con fotograf√≠as profesionales, explica que en 2004, Prosuco se hab√≠a propuesto formar a agricultores innovadores como agentes de extensi√≥n agr√≠cola. Uno de los primeros pasos fue poner un nombre a estos agricultores innovadores Ellos mismos eligieron “yapuchiri”, que es simplemente una palabra aymara que significa “agricultor”. Llamar a los nuevos expertos agricultores “yapuchiris” era una forma de decir que la agricultura era un oficio importante. Durante los siguientes 14 a√Īos, se formaron nuevos yapuchiris desde todo el Altiplano y hasta los valles de Chuquisaca. Setenta de ellos recibieron un certificado como ‚ÄúYapuchiris Facilitadores Comunitarios‚ÄĚ del Viceministerio de Educaci√≥n Alternativa (un nombre tan original y creativo por una instancia gubernamental).

El libro explica cómo los yapuchiris y Prosuco probaron nuevas ideas en finca, adaptando los fertilizantes orgánicos, como el bokashi, los bioles, a las condiciones locales, junto con caldos minerales, y repelentes naturales. Los controles no químicos del gorgojo andino de la papa también se adaptaron a las condiciones locales.

El libro tiene datos numéricos para mostrar que los rendimientos de los yapuchiris son más altos que los de otros agricultores y más altos que los logrados por los agricultores que recibieron capacitación agrícola convencional. Esto es importante, ya que la agricultura orgánica es a menudo descartada (por ejemplo en un caso famoso por The Economist en 2016) como de bajo rendimiento e incapaz de alimentar a la creciente población mundial.

A lo largo de los a√Īos, los yapuchiris desarrollaron el Pachagrama, una ficha para sistematizar el pron√≥stico del tiempo de los yapuchiris, mientras planifican y documentan el tiempo del a√Īo a medida que se desarrolla, d√≠a a d√≠a. Hemos discutido el Pachagrama en blogs anteriores Conocer el futuro, y Prediciendo el clima. Los yapuchiris iniciaron el Pachagrama como un cuadro con algunos dibujos, luego lo refinaron con el paso de los a√Īos.

Al principio, algunos de los vecinos de los yapuchiris se burlaron de la idea de los agricultores como extensionistas, diciendo que quer√≠an que un ingeniero agr√≥nomo los capacitara. Pero finalmente los yapuchiris convencieron a los dem√°s y pudieron trabajar con hasta el 50% de los agricultores de sus propias comunidades. Como dijo Mark Twain, “un experto es alguien con un malet√≠n que est√° a 50 millas de casa”.

De hecho, puede ser una ventaja ofrecer servicios de asesoramiento a “50 millas (70 km) de casa”. Los proyectos comenzaron a contratar yapuchiris para ense√Īar a otras comunidades. Los yapuchiris cruzaron el Altiplano, promoviendo la agricultura org√°nica y productiva a audiencias apreciativas.

Es una tonter√≠a denigrar a la gente que nos alimenta y cuida de la tierra. Crear orgullo en una profesi√≥n lleva tiempo y crear una agricultura m√°s productiva y sostenible es s√≥lo una parte de la tarea. Doce a√Īos de apoyo y capacitaci√≥n fueron importantes para desarrollar un grupo de yapuchiris seguros de s√≠ mismos. Los eventos con m√ļsica, discursos y un espl√©ndido almuerzo tambi√©n ayudan a mostrar esa confianza, mientras que los libros en un formato atractivo tambi√©n ayudan a mostrar c√≥mo ha evolucionado el trabajo a lo largo de los a√Īos.

El libro

Quispe, María, Eleodoro Baldiviezo y Sonia Laura 2018 Yapuchiris: Un Legado para Afrontar los Impactos del Cambio Climático. La Paz: Prosuco, Cosude & Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation.

Historias del blog sobre los yapuchiris

Inspiración Bangladesh a Bolivia

Agricultores producen contenido electrónico

Forty farmer innovations

Agradecimiento

Gracias a María Quispe, Eleodoro Baldiviezo, Sonia Laura, Eric Boa y Paul Van Mele por sus comentarios sobre una versión anterior.

Design by Olean webdesign