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Giving hope to child mothers October 29th, 2023 by

Nederlandse versie hieronder

Teenage girls are vulnerable and when they become pregnant societies deal with them in different ways. In Uganda, they are called all sorts of names, such as a bad person, a disgrace to parents, and even a prostitute. No one wants their children to associate with them because they are considered a bad influence. Parents often expel their daughters from the family and tell them that their life has come to end. Rebecca Akullu experienced this at the age of 17. But Rebecca is not like any other girl.

After giving birth to her baby, she saved money to go to college, where she got a diploma in business studies in 2018. Rebecca soon got a job as accountant at the Aryodi Bee Farm in Lira, northern Uganda, a region that has high youth unemployment and is still recovering from the violence unleashed by the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group. The farm director appreciated her work so much that he employed her.

‚ÄúOver the years, I developed a real passion for bees,‚ÄĚ Rebecca says, ‚Äúand through hands-on training, I became an expert in beekeeping myself. Whenever l had a chance to visit farmers, I was shocked to see how they destroyed and polluted the environment with agrochemicals, so I became deeply convinced of the need to care for our environment.‚ÄĚ

So, when Access Agriculture launched a call for young entrepreneurs to become farm advisors using a solar-powered projector to screen farmer training videos, Rebecca applied. After being selected as an Entrepreneur for Rural Access (ERA) in 2021, she received the equipment and training. At first she combined her ERA services with her job at the farm, but by the end of the year she resigned. Promoting her new business service required courage. Asked about her first marketing effort, Rebecca said she informed her community at church, at the end of Sunday service.

‚ÄúI was really anxious the first time I had to screen videos to a group of 30 farmers. I wondered if the equipment would work, which video topics the farmers would ask for and whether I would be able to answer their questions afterwards,‚ÄĚ Rebecca recalls. Her anxiety soon evaporated. Farmers wanted to know what videos she had on maize, so she showed several, including the ones on the fall armyworm, a pest that destroys entire fields. Farmers learned how to monitor their maize to detect the pest early, and they started to control it with wood ash instead of toxic pesticides.

Rebecca was asked to organise bi-weekly shows for several months, and she continues to do this, whenever asked. Having negotiated with the farm leader, each farmer pays 1,000 Ugandan Shillings (0.25 Euro) per show, where they watch and discuss three to five videos in the local Luo language. Some of the videos are available in English only, so Rebecca translates them for the farmers. ‚ÄúBut collecting money from individual farmers and mobilising them for each show is not easy,‚ÄĚ she says.

The videos impressed the farmers, and the ball started rolling. Juliette Atoo, a member of one of the farmer groups and primary school teacher in Akecoyere village, convinced her colleagues of the power of these videos, so Barapwo Primary School became Rebecca’s second client, offering her another unique experience.

‚ÄúThe children were so interested to learn and when I went back a month later, I was truly amazed to see how they had applied so many things in their school garden: the spacing of vegetables, the use of ash to protect their vegetable crops, compost making, and so on. The school was happy because they no longer needed to spend money on agrochemicals, and they could offer the children a healthy, organic lunch,‚ÄĚ says Rebecca.

As she grew more confident, new contracts with other schools soon followed. For each client Rebecca negotiates the price depending on the travel distance, accommodation, and how many children watch the videos. Often five videos are screened per day for two consecutive days, earning her between 120,000 and 200,000 Ugandan Shillings (30 to 50 Euros). Schools will continue to be important clients, because the Ugandan government has made skill training compulsory. Besides home economics and computer skills, students can also choose agriculture, so all schools have a practical school farm and are potential clients.

While she continues to engage with schools, over time Rebecca has partly changed her strategy. She now no longer actively approaches farmer groups, but rather explores which NGOs work with farmers in the region and what projects they have or are about to start. Having searched the internet and done background research, it is easier to convince project staff of the value of her video-based advisory service.

As Rebecca, now the mother of four children, does not want to miss the opportunity to respond to the growing number of requests for her video screening service, she is currently training a man and a woman in their early twenties to strengthen her team.

Having never forgotten her own suffering as a young mother, and having experienced the opportunities offered by the Access Agriculture videos, Rebecca also decided to establish her own community-based organisation: the Network for Women in Action, which she runs as a charity. Having impressed her parents, in 2019 they allowed her to set up a demonstration farm (Newa Api Green Farm) on family land, where she trains young girls and pregnant teenage school dropouts in artisan skills such as, making paper bags, weaving baskets and making beehives from locally available materials.

Traditional beehives are made from tree trunks, clay pots, and woven baskets smeared with cow dung that are hung in the trees. To collect the honey, farmers climb the trees and destroy the colonies. From one of the videos made in Kenya, the members of the association learned how to smoke out the bees, and not destroy them.

From another video made in Nepal, Making a Modern Beehive, the women learned to make improved beehives in wooden boxes, which they construct for farmers upon order. From the video, they realised that the currently used bee boxes were too large. ‚ÄúBecause small colonies are unable to generate the right temperature within the large hives, we only had a success rate of 50%. Now we make our hives smaller, and 8 out 10 hives are colonised successfully,‚ÄĚ says Rebecca.

Young women often have no land of their own, so members who want to can place their beehives on the demo farm. ‚ÄúWe also have a honey press. All members used to bring their honey to our farm. But from the video Turning Honey into Money, we learned that we can easily sieve the honey through a clean cloth after we have put the honey in the sun. So now, women can process the honey directly at their homes.‚ÄĚ

The bee business has become a symbol of healing. Farmers understand that their crops benefit from bees, so the young women beekeepers are appreciated for their service to the farming community. But also, parents who had expelled their pregnant daughter, embarrassed by societal judgement, begin to accept their entrepreneurial daughter again as she sends cash and food to her parents.

‚ÄúWe even trained young women to harvest honey, which traditionally only men do. When people in a village see our young girls wearing a beekeeper‚Äôs outfit and climbing trees, they are amazed. It sends out a powerful message to young girls that, even if you become a victim of early motherhood, there is always hope. Your life does not end,‚ÄĚ concludes Rebecca.

 

Kindermoeders weer hoop geven

Tienermeisjes zijn kwetsbaar en als ze zwanger worden gaan maatschappijen vaak op verschillende manieren met hen om. In Oeganda worden ze allerlei namen gegeven, zoals een slecht persoon, een schande voor de ouders en zelfs een prostituee. Niemand wil dat hun kinderen met hen omgaan omdat ze als een slechte invloed worden beschouwd. Ouders verstoten hun dochters vaak uit de familie en vertellen hen dat hun leven voorbij is. Dit is wat Rebecca Akullu meemaakte op 17-jarige leeftijd. Maar Rebecca is niet zoals ieder ander meisje.

Na de geboorte van haar baby spaarde ze geld om naar de universiteit te gaan en haalde in 2018 een diploma in bedrijfswetenschappen. Rebecca kreeg al snel een baan als boekhouder bij de Aryodi Bee Farm in Lira, in het noorden van Oeganda, een regio met een hoge jeugdwerkloosheid die nog herstellende is van de opstand van Lord’s Resistance Army, een gewelddadige rebellengroepering. De directeur waardeerde haar werk zo erg dat hij haar in dienst nam.

“In de loop der jaren ontwikkelde ik een echte passie voor bijen,” vertelt Rebecca, “en door praktische training werd ik zelf een expert in het houden van bijen. Telkens als ik de kans kreeg om boeren te bezoeken, was ik geschokt om te zien hoe ze het milieu vernietigden en vervuilden met landbouwchemicali√ęn, dus ik raakte diep overtuigd van de noodzaak om voor ons milieu te zorgen.”

Dus toen Access Agriculture een oproep deed voor jonge ondernemers om landbouwadviseurs te worden met een projector op zonne-energie om trainingsvideo’s voor boeren te vertonen, schreef Rebecca zich in. Nadat ze was geselecteerd als Entrepreneur for Rural Access (ERA), ontving ze de apparatuur en de training in 2021. Aanvankelijk bleef ze part-time werken, doch tegen het einde van het jaar nam ze ontslag om volledig op eigen benen te staan. Om haar nieuwe bedrijfsdienst te promoten was moed nodig. Gevraagd naar haar eerste marketingpoging, zei Rebecca dat ze haar gemeenschap in de kerk informeerde, aan het einde van de zondagsdienst.

“De eerste keer dat ik video’s moest vertonen aan een groep van 30 boeren, was ik echt bang. Ik vroeg me af of de apparatuur zou werken, naar welke video’s de boeren zouden vragen en of ik hun vragen na afloop zou kunnen beantwoorden,” herinnert Rebecca zich. Haar bezorgdheid verdween al snel. Boeren wilden weten welke video’s ze had over ma√Įs, dus liet ze er verschillende zien, waaronder die over de fall armyworm, een ernstige plaag die hele gewassen vernietigt. Boeren leerden hoe ze hun velden in de gaten konden houden om de plaag vroegtijdig te ontdekken en ze begonnen houtas te gebruiken in plaats van giftige pesticiden om de plaag te bestrijden.

Rebecca werd gevraagd om gedurende een aantal maanden tweewekelijkse shows te organiseren en doet dit nog steeds wanneer haar dat wordt gevraagd. Na onderhandeling met de leider van de lokale boerenorganisatie betaalt elke boer 1.000 Oegandese Shilling (0,25 euro) per show, waarbij ze drie tot vijf video’s in de lokale Luo-taal bekijken en bespreken. Sommige video’s zijn alleen in het Engels beschikbaar, dus vertaalt Rebecca ze voor de boeren. “Maar het is niet gemakkelijk om geld in te zamelen van individuele boeren en hen te mobiliseren voor elke show,” zegt ze.

De video’s maakten indruk op de boeren en de bal ging aan het rollen. Juliette Atoo, lid van een van de boerengroepen en lerares op een basisschool in het dorp Akecoyere, overtuigde haar collega’s van de kracht van deze video’s en zo werd de Barapwo basisschool Rebecca’s tweede klant, wat haar weer een unieke ervaring opleverde.

“De kinderen waren zo ge√Įnteresseerd om te leren en toen ik een maand later terugging, was ik echt verbaasd om te zien hoe ze zoveel dingen hadden toegepast in hun schooltuin: de afstand tussen groenten, het gebruik van as om hun groentegewassen te beschermen, compost maken, enzovoort. De school was blij omdat ze geen geld meer hoefden uit te geven aan landbouwchemicali√ęn en ze de kinderen een gezonde, biologische lunch konden aanbieden,” herinnert Rebecca zich.

Naarmate ze meer vertrouwen kreeg, volgden al snel nieuwe contracten met andere scholen. Voor elke klant onderhandelt Rebecca over de prijs, afhankelijk van de afstand die moet worden afgelegd, de accommodatie en het aantal kinderen dat de video’s bekijkt. Vaak worden er vijf video’s per dag vertoond gedurende twee opeenvolgende dagen, waarmee ze tussen de 120.000 en 200.000 Oegandese Shillings (30 tot 50 euro) verdient. Scholen blijven belangrijke klanten, omdat de Oegandese overheid vaardigheidstraining verplicht heeft gesteld. Naast huishoudkunde en computervaardigheden kunnen leerlingen ook kiezen voor landbouw, dus alle scholen hebben een praktische schoolboerderij en zijn potenti√ęle klanten.

Hoewel ze contact blijft houden met scholen, heeft Rebecca in de loop der tijd haar strategie deels gewijzigd. Ze benadert nu niet langer actief boerengroepen, maar onderzoekt welke NGO’s met boeren in de regio werken en welke projecten ze hebben of op het punt staan te starten. Nadat ze op internet heeft gezocht en achtergrondonderzoek heeft gedaan, is het gemakkelijker om projectmedewerkers te overtuigen van de waarde van de op video gebaseerde voorlichtingsdienst.

Omdat Rebecca, inmiddels moeder van vier kinderen, de kans niet wil missen om in te gaan op het toenemende aantal aanvragen voor haar video-adviesdienst, leidt ze momenteel een jonge man en jonge vrouw van begin twintig op om haar team te versterken.

Rebecca is haar eigen lijden als jonge moeder nooit vergeten en heeft de mogelijkheden ervaren die de video’s van Access Agriculture bieden. Daarom heeft ze ook besloten om haar eigen gemeenschapsorganisatie op te richten: het Netwerk voor Vrouwen in Actie, dat ze als liefdadigheidsinstelling runt. Nadat ze indruk had gemaakt op haar ouders, gaven ze haar in 2019 toestemming om een demonstratieboerderij (Newa Api Green Farm) op te zetten op het land van haar familie. Hier traint ze jonge meisjes en zwangere schoolverlaters in ambachtelijke vaardigheden, zoals het maken van papieren zakken, het weven van manden en het maken van bijenkorven met behulp van lokaal beschikbare materialen.

Traditionele bijenkorven zijn gemaakt van boomstammen, kleipotten en gevlochten manden besmeerd met koeienmest die in de bomen worden gehangen. Om de honing te verzamelen klimmen de boeren in de bomen en vernietigen ze de kolonies. Op een van de video’s die in Kenia werd gemaakt, leerden de leden van de vereniging hoe ze de bijen konden uitroken en niet vernietigen.

Op een andere video, gemaakt in Nepal, leerden de vrouwen houten bijenkasten te maken, die ze op bestelling voor boeren bouwen. Door de video realiseerden ze zich dat de huidige bijenkasten (Top Bar Hive) te groot waren. “Omdat kleine volken niet in staat zijn om de juiste temperatuur in de grote bijenkasten te genereren, hadden we slechts een succespercentage van 50%. Nu maken we onze bijenkasten kleiner en worden 8 op de 10 bijenkasten succesvol gekoloniseerd,” zegt Rebecca.

Jonge vrouwen hebben vaak geen eigen land, dus leden die dat willen kunnen hun bijenkorven op de demoboerderij zetten. “We hebben ook een honingpers. Vroeger brachten alle leden hun honing naar onze boerderij. Maar van de video’s hebben we geleerd dat we de honing gemakkelijk kunnen zeven door een schone doek nadat we de honing in de zon hebben gezet. Dus nu kunnen de vrouwen de honing direct bij hen thuis verwerken.”

De bijenteelt is een symbool van genezing geworden. Boeren begrijpen dat hun gewassen baat hebben bij bijen, dus de jonge imkervrouwen worden gewaardeerd voor hun diensten aan de boerengemeenschap. Maar ook ouders die eerst hun zwangere dochter hadden weggestuurd, beschaamd door het sociale stigma, beginnen hun ondernemende dochter weer te accepteren nu ze geld en voedsel naar haar ouders sturen.

“We hebben zelfs jonge vrouwen opgeleid tot honingoogsters, iets wat traditioneel alleen mannen doen. Als mensen in een dorp onze jonge meisjes in imkeroutfit in bomen zien klimmen, zijn ze verbaasd. Het is een krachtige boodschap voor jonge meisjes dat er altijd hoop is, zelfs als je het slachtoffer wordt van vroeg moederschap. Je leven is niet voorbij,” besluit Rebecca.

Shopping with mom February 12th, 2023 by

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

Shopping can not only be fun, but healthy and educational, as Paul and Marcella and I learned recently while filming a video in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

We visited a stall run by Laura Guzmán, who we have met in a previous blog story. Laura’s stall is so busy that her brother and a cousin help out. They sell the family’s own produce, some from the neighbors, and some they buy wholesale.

The market is clean and open to the light and air. All of the stalls neatly display their vegetables, grains and flowers. While Marcella films, Paul and I stand to one side, keeping out of the shot. Paul is quick to observe that Laura holds up each package of vegetables, explaining them to her customers. One pair of women listen attentively, and then buy several packages before moving on to another stall.

Paul reminds me that we need to interview consumers for this video on selling organic produce, so we approach the two shoppers. As in Ecuador, when we filmed consumers in the market, I was pleasantly surprised how strangers can be quite happy to appear on an educational video.

One of the women, Sonia Pinedo, spoke with confidence into the camera, explaining how she always looks for organic produce. ‚ÄúOrganic vegetables are important, because they are not contaminated and they are good for your health.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúAnd now you can interview my daughter,‚ÄĚ Sonia said, nudging the young woman next to her.

Her daughter, 21-year-old university student, Lorena Quispe, spoke about how important it was to engage young consumers, teaching them to demand chemical-free food. She pointed out that if youth start eating right when they are young, they will not only live longer, but when they reach 60, they will still be healthy, and able to enjoy life. Remarkably, Lorena also pointed out that consumers play a role supporting organic farmers. She had clearly understood that choosing good food also builds communities.

Food shopping is often a way for parents to spend time with their children, and to pass on knowledge about food and healthy living, so that the kids grow up to be thoughtful young adults.

Watch a related video

Creating agroecological markets

DE COMPRAS CON MAM√Ā

Jeff Bentley, 5 de febrero del 2023

Ir de compras no sólo puede ser divertido, sino también saludable y educativo, como Paul, Marcella y yo aprendimos hace poco mientras grabábamos un video en Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Visitamos un puesto de ventas de Laura Guzm√°n, a quien ya conocimos en una historia anterior del blog. El puesto de Laura est√° tan concurrido que su hermano y un primo la ayudan. Venden los productos de la familia, algunos de los vecinos y otros que compran al por mayor.

El mercado est√° limpio y abierto a la luz y al aire. Todos los puestos exponen con esmero sus verduras, cereales y flores. Mientras Marcella filma, Paul y yo nos quedamos a un lado, fuera del plano. Paul no tarda en observar que Laura sostiene en alto cada paquete de verduras, explic√°ndoselas a sus clientes. Un par de mujeres escuchan atentamente y compran varios paquetes antes de pasar a otro puesto.

Paul me recuerda que tenemos que entrevistar a los consumidores para este video sobre la venta de productos ecológicos, así que nos acercamos a las dos compradoras. Al igual que en Ecuador, cuando filmamos a los consumidores en el mercado, me sorprendió gratamente que a pesar de que no nos conocen, están dispuestos a salir en un video educativo.

Una de las mujeres, Sonia Pinedo, habla con confianza a la c√°mara y explica que siempre busca productos ecol√≥gicos. “Las verduras ecol√≥gicas son importantes, porque no est√°n contaminadas y son buenas para la salud”.

“Y ahora puedes entrevistar a mi hija”, dijo Sonia, dando un codazo a la joven que estaba a su lado.

Su hija, Lorena Quispe, una estudiante universitaria de 21 a√Īos, habl√≥ de la importancia de involucrar a los j√≥venes consumidores, ense√Ī√°ndoles a exigir alimentos libres de productos qu√≠micos. Se√Īal√≥ que, si los j√≥venes empiezan a comer bien de peque√Īos, no s√≥lo vivir√°n m√°s, sino que cuando lleguen a los 60 seguir√°n estando sanos y podr√°n disfrutar de la vida. Sorprendentemente, Lorena tambi√©n se√Īal√≥ que los consumidores juegan un papel de apoyo a los agricultores ecol√≥gicos. Hab√≠a comprendido claramente que elegir buenos alimentos tambi√©n construye comunidades.

La compra de alimentos suele ser una forma de que los padres pasen tiempo con sus hijos y les transmitan conocimientos sobre alimentaci√≥n y vida sana, para que los ni√Īos se conviertan en j√≥venes adultos pensativos.

Vea un video relacionado

Creando ferias agroecológicas

Choosing to farm August 8th, 2021 by

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

Growing up on a mixed dairy farm in Sacaba, Bolivia, Alicia Garc√≠a was always interested in agriculture. This year, Alicia and her sister built two greenhouses and grew winter tomatoes (in June and July, in Bolivia). But as the temperature dropped near freezing several times, the plants ‚Äúburned‚ÄĚ or died back. Alicia admits that the first winter was a learning experience. In Cochabamba tomatoes are a summer crop, so Alicia was surprised with the cold damage, but she is sure that next winter, she will manage better. To keep learning, she left one row of the damaged tomatoes standing, to see if they could recover, but she has replanted most of the greenhouse with lettuce and other leafy greens. Aphids are a tomato pest, but Alicia manages them with homemade sulfur lime and an ash-and-soap blend. Alicia fertilizes the soil with manure from her family‚Äôs cows and with biol (made from manure fermented in water).

As another innovation, Alicia is growing apples as an agroforestry system. (Earlier I wrote about some of the agroforestry pioneers in Cochabamba, Apple futures, Farming with trees). Alicia planted her apple seedlings a year and a half ago, and while they are still small she grows broad beans, onions, broccoli and cabbage in between the little trees. This makes use of the land, and keeps down the weeds.

She’s also had some help along the way. When she was just 13 she began taking farming classes from the Center for Technical Teaching for Women (CETM). For the past 10 years, Agrecol Andes (an NGO that promotes agroecology) has helped Alicia and other farmers to sell their ecological produce in coordination with the municipal government (see blog An exit strategy). Last year, Alicia and her sister built two greenhouses, with support from a government program, The Rural Alliances Project Rurales (PAR).

This experience shows that a young woman can be interested in agriculture enough to assume long-term commitments like a greenhouse and an apple orchard. Alicia has a lot in her favor: institutional support for training, investment and marketing, a family that provides land and manure, and she lives in an attractive community. The family home is just past the edge of the small city of Sacaba, which has all the basic services (like banks, hospitals, and shopping). And Sacaba itself is a half-hour drive from the big city of Cochabamba. In Bolivia, rural migration is draining the countryside, but small cities like Sacaba are growing rapidly. The city also offers opportunities for farmers. Every Friday, Alicia and other farmers meet at a city park in Sacaba to sell produce to local people.

I asked Alicia why she had gone into farming. I thought she might say to make money. She surprised me a bit when said ‚ÄúWhat I like is the chance to work with nature.‚ÄĚ

In other words, a lifestyle decision. She finds the work enjoyable, and she likes to farm without chemicals. Alicia explained ‚ÄúMy parents never used pesticides on their farm. Even when the neighbors sprayed their maize and potatoes, my parents didn‚Äôt.‚ÄĚ

Alicia is now in university and has one year left to finish her degree in architecture. After graduation she would like to open her own office and go into landscaping, combining architecture with her love of plants and the outdoors.

Alicia doesn’t farm like her parents did. They didn’t grow vegetables or fruit trees, but she builds on their experience and with appropriate help, was able to start a greenhouse and an orchard while still attending university. Agriculture can capture the imagination of the best and brightest young people.

Acknowledgments

Thanks to Alicia for receiving us in her orchard and in her greenhouse. Thanks to Ing. Alberto C√°rdenas and Ing. Alexander Espinoza for organizing this visit, where consumers were able to meet farmers. Alberto and Alexander work for the Agrecol Andes Foundation, in Cochabamba. Alicia and Alberto commented on a previous version of this story.

Previous Agro-Insight blogs

Strawberry fields once again

Friendly germs

OPTANDO POR LA AGRICULTURA

Por Jeff Bentley, 8 de agosto del 2021

Al crecer en la finca lechera de su familia en Sacaba, Bolivia, Alicia Garc√≠a siempre se interes√≥ por la agricultura. Este a√Īo, Alicia y su hermana construyeron dos invernaderos, y lograron producir tomates de invierno (junio y julio, en Bolivia). Pero como la temperatura baj√≥ cerca de cero grados varias veces, las plantas se “quemaron” o sea se muri√≥ parte de su follaje. Alicia reconoce que el primer invierno fue una experiencia de aprendizaje. En Cochabamba los tomates son un cultivo de verano, as√≠ que Alicia se sorprendi√≥ con los da√Īos causados por el fr√≠o, pero est√° segura de que el pr√≥ximo invierno se las arreglar√° mejor. Para seguir aprendiendo, dej√≥ una hilera de tomates da√Īados en pie, para ver si se recuperaban, pero ha replantado la mayor parte del invernadero con lechuga y otras verduras de hoja verde. Los pulgones son una plaga del tomate, pero Alicia los controla con sulfoc√°lcico y un caldo de ceniza y jab√≥n. Alicia abona la tierra con el esti√©rcol de las vacas de su familia y con biol (hecho de esti√©rcol fermentado en agua).

Como otra innovaci√≥n, Alicia ha plantado manzanos como sistema agroforestal. (He escrito sobre algunos de los pioneros de la agroforester√≠a en Cochabamba, Manzanos del futuro, La agricultura con √°rboles). Alicia plant√≥ sus plantines de manzano hace un a√Īo y medio y, mientras son peque√Īos, ella cultiva habas, cebollas, br√≥coli y repollo entre los arbolitos. As√≠ aprovecha la tierra y evita las malezas.

A lo largo de los a√Īos Alicia ha tenido apoyo de varios tipos. A los 13 a√Īos empez√≥ a pasar clases de agricultura en el Centro de Ense√Īanza T√©cnica para la Mujer (CETM). Desde hace tres a√Īos la Fundaci√≥n Agrecol Andes, una ONG que promueve la agroecolog√≠a, ayuda a Alicia y a otros agricultores a vender sus productos ecol√≥gicos (v√©ase el blog, Estrategia de salida), con un sistema participativo de garant√≠a, a trav√©s de un convenio con el Gobierno Municipal de Sacaba. ¬†El a√Īo pasado, Alicia y su hermana construyeron dos invernaderos, con el apoyo de un programa gubernamental, el Proyecto de Alianzas Rurales (PAR).

Esta experiencia demuestra que una mujer joven puede interesarse por la agricultura lo suficiente como para asumir compromisos a largo plazo, como un invernadero y un huerto de manzanos. Alicia tiene mucho a su favor: apoyo institucional para la capacitaci√≥n, la inversi√≥n y la comercializaci√≥n, una familia que le proporciona la tierra y el abono, y vive en una comunidad atractiva. Vive cerca de la peque√Īa ciudad de Sacaba, que tiene todos los servicios b√°sicos (como bancos, hospitales y tiendas). Y Sacaba est√° a media hora en auto de la gran ciudad de Cochabamba. En Bolivia mucha gente est√° abandonando las comunidades rurales, pero las ciudades peque√Īas como Sacaba est√°n creciendo r√°pidamente. La ciudad tambi√©n ofrece oportunidades para los agricultores. Todos los viernes, Alicia y otros agricultores se re√ļnen en un parque de la ciudad de Sacaba para vender productos a la poblaci√≥n local.

Le pregunt√© a Alicia por qu√© se hab√≠a dedicado a la agricultura. Pensaba que dir√≠a que lo hac√≠a para ganar dinero. Me sorprendi√≥ un poco cuando dijo: “Lo que me llama la atenci√≥n de la agricultura es la naturaleza”.

En otras palabras, una decisi√≥n de estilo de vida. El trabajo le resulta agradable y le gusta cultivar sin productos qu√≠micos. Alicia tambi√©n explic√≥: “Mis padres nunca usaron qu√≠micos. Incluso cuando los vecinos fumigaban su ma√≠z y sus papas, mis padres no lo hac√≠an”.

Actualmente, Alicia est√° en la universidad y le queda un a√Īo para terminar la carrera de arquitectura. Despu√©s de graduarse le gustar√≠a abrir su propia oficina y dedicarse al paisajismo, combinando la arquitectura con su amor por las plantas y el trabajo al aire libre.

Alicia no trabaja la tierra como lo hacían sus papás. Ellos no cultivaban verduras ni árboles frutales, pero ella se basa en la experiencia de ellos y, con la ayuda adecuada, pudo poner en marcha un invernadero y un huerto mientras seguía asistiendo a la universidad. La agricultura puede captar la imaginación de las jóvenes listas y bien preparadas.

Agradecimientos

Gracias a Alicia por recibirnos en su huerto y su invernadero. Gracias a los Ing. Alberto Cárdenas y Alexander Espinoza por organizar esta visita, entre consumidores y agricultores. Alberto y Alexander trabajan para la Fundación Agrecol Andes, en Cochabamba. Alicia y Alberto comentaron sobre una versión previa de este blog.

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Youth don’t hate agriculture June 20th, 2021 by

Rural youth are moving to the cities by the busload. Yet counter to the prevailing stereotype, many young people like village life and would be happy to go into farming, if it paid. This is one of the insights from a study of youth aspirations in East Africa that unfolds in three excellent country studies written by teams of social scientists, each working in their own country. Each study followed a parallel method, with dozens of interviews with individuals and groups in the local languages, making findings easy to compare across borders.

In Ethiopia many young people grow small plots of vegetables for sale, and would be glad to produce grains, legumes, eggs or dairy. Youth are often attracted to enterprises based on high-value produce that can be grown on the small plots of land that young people have.

Young people are also eager to get into post-harvest processing, transportation and marketing of farm produce, but they lack the contacts or the knowhow to get started. Ethiopian youth have little money to invest in farm businesses, so they often migrate to Saudi Arabia where well-paid manual work is available (or at least it was, before the pandemic).

In northern Uganda, researchers found that many youths wanted to get an education and a good job, but unwanted pregnancies and early marriage forced many to drop out of secondary school. If dreams of moving to the city and becoming a doctor, a lawyer or a teacher don’t work out, then agriculture is the fallback option for many young people. But, as in Ethiopia, young Ugandan farmers would like their work to pay more.

In Tanzania, many youths have been able to finish secondary school and some attend university. Even there, young people go to the city to escape poverty, not to get away from the village. Many youths are even returning, like one young man who quit his job as a shop assistant in town to go home and buy a plot of land to grow vegetables. Using the business skills he learned in town, he was also able to sell fish, and eventually invested in a successful, five acre (two hectare) cashew farm.

These three insightful studies from East Africa lament that extension services often ignore youth. But the studies also suggest to me that some of the brightest youth will still manage to find their way into agriculture. Every urban migrant becomes a new consumer, who has to buy food. As tropical cities mushroom, demand will grow for farm produce.

If youth want to stay in farming, they should be able to do so, but they will need investment capital, and training in topics like pest management and ways to make their produce more appealing for urban consumers. Improved infrastructure will not only make country life more attractive, but more productive. Better mobile phone connectivity will link smallholders with buyers and suppliers. Roads will help bring food to the cities. A constant electric supply will allow food to be processed, labeled and packaged in the countryside. New information services, including online videos, can also help give information that young farmers need to produce high-value produce.

Further reading

These three studies were all sponsored by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). You can find them here.

Boonabaana, Brenda, Peace Musiimenta, Margaret Najjingo Mangheni, and Jasper Bakeiha Ankunda 2020. Youth Realities, Aspirations, Transitions to Adulthood and Opportunity Structures in Uganda’s Dryland Areas. Report submitted to ICRISAT.

Endris, Getachew Shambel, and Jemal Yousuf Hassan 2020. Youth realities, aspirations, transitions to adulthood and opportunity structures in the drylands of Ethiopia. Report submitted to ICRISAT.

Mwaseba, Dismas L., Athman K. Ahmad and Kenneth M. Mapund 2020. Youth Realities, Aspirations and Transitions to Adulthood in Dryland Agriculture in Tanzania. Report submitted to ICRISAT.

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Some videos of interest

Access Agriculture hosts videos to share information about profitable, ecologically-sound agriculture. Farmers of all ages can download videos on their smartphones in English and many other languages, for example:

For Ethiopia, check out these videos in Amharic, Oromo, Afar, and Arabic, Oromo,

For Tanzania, 122 videos in Swahili (Kiswahili), and others in Dholuo, and Tumbuka

For Uganda, Ateso, Kalenjin, Kiswahili, Luganda, Lugbara, Luo (Uganda), Runyakitara

To find videos in a language of your country, click here.

Teaching the farmers of tomorrow with videos May 23rd, 2021 by

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

Youth around the world are leaving agriculture, but many would stay on the farm if they had appropriate technologies and better social services, as Professor Alejandro Bonifacio explained to me recently.

Dr. Bonifacio is from the rural Altiplano, the high plains of Bolivia. At 4,000 meters above sea level, it is some of the highest farmland in the world. Bonifacio has a PhD in plant breeding, and besides directing an agricultural research station in Viacha on the Altiplano, he teaches plant breeding part-time at the public university in La Paz (Universidad Mayor de San Andrés).

The university attracts many rural youths. Every year Bonifacio asks his new class of students to introduce themselves one-by-one and to tell where they come from, and to talk about their parents and their grandparents.

This year about 20% of the students in Bonifacio’s class are still living on the farm, and taking their classes online. Another 50% are the children or grandchildren of farmers, but are now living in the city. Many of these agronomy students would be more interested in taking over their parents’ farm, if not for a couple of problems.

One limitation is the lack of services in the rural areas: poor schools, bad roads, the lack of clinics, and no electricity or running water. While this is slowly improving, Covid has added a new twist, locking young people out of many of the places they liked to go to, and not just bars and restaurants. One advantage of city life is having access to medical attention, but this past year the students said it was as though the cities had no hospitals, because they were full of Covid patients. Classes were all on-line, and so the countryside began to look like a nicer place to live than the city. Many students went home to their rural communities, where there was much more freedom of movement than in the city.

Dr. Bonifacio told me that even when the youth do go home, they don’t want to farm exactly like their parents did. The youngsters don’t go in for all the backbreaking work with picks and shovels, but there is a lack of appropriate technology oriented towards young, family farmers, such as small, affordable machinery. Young farmers are also interested in exploiting emerging markets for differentiated produce, such as food that is free of pesticides. Organic agriculture also helps to save on production costs, as long as farmers have practical alternatives to agrochemicals.

Fortunately, there are videos on appropriate technologies, and Professor Bonifacio shows them in class. Today‚Äôs youth have grown up with videos, and find them convincing. Every year, Bonifacio organizes a forum for about 50 students on plant breeding and crop disease. He assigns the students three videos to watch, to discuss later in the forum. One of his favorites is Growing lupin without disease, which shows some organic methods for keeping the crop healthy. Bonifacio encourages the students to watch the video in Spanish, and Quechua or Aymara. Many of the students speak Quechua or Aymara, or both, besides Spanish. Some feel that they are forgetting their native language. ‚ÄúThe videos help the students to learn technical terms, like the names of plant diseases, in their native languages,‚ÄĚ Bonifacio says.

During the Covid lockdown, Prof. Bonifacio moved his forum online and sent the students links to the videos. In the forum, some of the students said that while they were home they could identify the symptoms of lupine disease, thanks to the video.

Bonifacio logs onto Access Agriculture from time to time to see which new videos have been posted in Spanish, to select some to show to his students, so they can get some of the information they need to become the farmers of tomorrow.

Kids who grow up on small farms often go to university as a bridge to getting a decent job in the city. But others study agriculture, and would return to farming, if they had appropriate technology for family farming, and services like electricity and high-speed internet.

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Videos from Access Agriculture

Check out these youth-friendly videos with appropriate technology. Besides videos in English, www.accessagriculture.org has:

104 videos in Spanish

Eight videos in Aymara

And eight in Quechua

ENSE√ĎAR A LOS AGRICULTORES DEL MA√ĎANA CON VIDEOS

Por Jeff Bentley, 23 de mayo del 2021

Por todas partes del mundo, los jóvenes abandonan la agricultura, pero muchos seguirían cultivando si tuvieran tecnologías apropiadas y mejores servicios sociales, como me explicó recientemente el docente Alejandro Bonifacio.

El Dr. Bonifacio es originario del Altiplano de Bolivia. A 4.000 metros sobre el nivel del mar, es una de las tierras agr√≠colas m√°s altas del mundo. Bonifacio tiene un doctorado en fitomejoramiento y, adem√°s de ser jefe de una estaci√≥n de investigaci√≥n agr√≠cola en Viacha, en el Altiplano, ense√Īa fitomeoramiento a tiempo parcial en la universidad p√ļblica de La Paz (Universidad Mayor de San Andr√©s).

La universidad atrae a muchos j√≥venes rurales. Cada a√Īo, Bonifacio pide a su nueva clase de estudiantes que se presenten uno por uno y digan de d√≥nde vienen, y que hablen de sus padres y sus abuelos.

Este a√Īo, alrededor del 20% de los estudiantes de la clase de Bonifacio siguen viviendo en el √°rea rural, desde donde se conectan a las clases virtuales. Otro 50% son hijos o nietos de agricultores, pero ahora viven en la ciudad. Muchos de estos estudiantes de agronom√≠a estar√≠an m√°s interesados en trabajar el terreno sus padres, si no fuera por un par de problemas.

Una limitaci√≥n es la falta de servicios en las zonas rurales: colegios deficientes, carreteras en mal estado, la falta de cl√≠nicas, luz y agua potable. Aunque esto est√° mejorando poco a poco, Covid ha introducido cambios, porque los j√≥venes ya no pueden ir a muchos de los lugares que les gustaban, y no s√≥lo las discotecas y los restaurantes. Una de las ventajas de la vida urbana es tener acceso a la atenci√≥n m√©dica, pero este √ļltimo a√Īo los estudiantes dijeron que era como si las ciudades no tuvieran hospitales, porque estaban llenos de pacientes de Covid. Las clases eran todas en l√≠nea, por lo que el campo empez√≥ a parecer un lugar m√°s agradable para vivir que la ciudad. Muchos estudiantes se fueron a sus comunidades rurales, donde hab√≠a m√°s libertad de movimiento que en la ciudad.

El Dr. Bonifacio me dijo que, incluso cuando los j√≥venes vuelven a casa, no quieren trabajar la tierra tal como lo hac√≠an sus padres. Los j√≥venes no se dedican al trabajo agotador con palas y picotas, pero hace falta la tecnolog√≠a adecuada orientada a los j√≥venes agricultores familiares, por ejemplo, la maquinaria peque√Īa y asequible. Los j√≥venes agricultores tambi√©n quieren explotar los mercados emergentes de productos diferenciados, como los alimentos libres de plaguicidas. La agricultura org√°nica tambi√©n ayuda a ahorrar costes de producci√≥n, siempre que los agricultores tengan alternativas pr√°cticas a los productos agroqu√≠micos.

Afortunadamente, existen videos sobre tecnolog√≠as adecuadas, y el Dr. Bonifacio los muestra en clase. Los j√≥venes de hoy conocen los videos desde su infancia, y los encuentran convincentes. Cada a√Īo, Bonifacio organiza un foro para unos 50 estudiantes sobre el fitomejoramiento y las enfermedades. Asigna a los alumnos tres videos para que los vean y los discutan despu√©s en el foro. Uno de sus favoritos es Producir tarwi sin enfermedad, que muestra algunos m√©todos org√°nicos para mantener el lupino sano. Bonifacio anima a los estudiantes a ver el video en espa√Īol y en quechua o aymara. Muchos de los estudiantes hablan quechua o aymara, o ambos, adem√°s del castellano. Algunos sienten que est√°n olvidando su lengua materna. “Los videos ayudan a los alumnos a aprender t√©rminos t√©cnicos, como los nombres de las enfermedades de las plantas, en sus idiomas nativos”, dice Bonifacio.

Durante la cuarentena de Covid, el Dr. Bonifacio trasladó su foro a Internet y envió a los estudiantes enlaces a los videos. En el foro, algunos de los estudiantes dijeron que mientras estaban en casa podían identificar los síntomas de la enfermedad del tarwi (lupino), gracias al video.

Bonifacio entra en la p√°gina web de Access Agriculture de vez en cuando para ver qu√© nuevos videos se han publicado en espa√Īol, para seleccionar algunos y ense√Ī√°rselos a sus alumnos, para que aprendan algo de la informaci√≥n que necesitan para ser los agricultores del futuro.

Los hijos de agricultores suelen usar a la universidad como puente para conseguir un buen trabajo en la ciudad. Pero otros estudian agronomía, y volverían al agro, si tuvieran tecnología apropiada para la agricultura familiar, y servicios como electricidad e Internet de alta velocidad.

Historias relacionadas en el blog de Agro-Insight

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Sin tierra, sin agua, no hay problema

Videos de Access Agriculture

Vea algunos de estos videos apropiados para agricultores jóvenes en https://www.accessagriculture.org/es. Incluso, Access Agriculture tiene:

104 videos en castellano

Ocho videos en aymara

Y ocho en quechua

 

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