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Pheromone traps are social March 26th, 2023 by

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

Farmers like insecticides because they are quick, easy to use, and fairly cheap, especially if you ignore the health risks.

Fortunately, alternatives are emerging around the world. Entomologists are developing traps made of pheromones, the smells that guide insects to attack, or congregate or to mate. Each species has its own sex pheromone, which researchers can isolate and synthesize. Insects are so attracted to sex pheromones that they can even be used to make traps.

I had seen pheromone traps before, on small farms in Nepal, so I was pleased to see two varieties of pheromone traps in Bolivia.

Paul and Marcella and I were filming a video for farmers on the potato tuber moth, a pest that gets into potatoes in the field and in storage. Given enough time, the larvae of the little tuber moths will eat a potato into a soggy mass of frass.

We visited two farms with Juan Almanza, a talented agronomist who is helping farmers try pheromone traps, among other innovations.

A little piece of rubber is impregnated with the sex pheromone that attracts the male tuber moth. The rubber is hung from a wire inside a plastic trap. One type of trap is like a funnel, where the moths can fly in, but can’t get out again. The males are attracted to the smell of a receptive female, but are then locked in a trap with no escape. They never mate, and so the females cannot lay eggs.

Farmers Pastor Veizaga and Irene Claros showed us traps they had made at home, using an old bottle of cooking oil. The bottle is filled partway with water and detergent. The moth flies around the bait until it stumbles into the detergent water, and dies.

All of the farmers we met were impressed with these simple traps and how many moths they killed. A few of these safe, inexpensive traps, hanging in a potato storage area, could be part of the solution to protecting the potato, loved around the world by people and by moths alike. The pheromone trap could give the farmers a chance to outsmart the moths, without insecticides. But the farmers can’t adopt pheromone traps on their own; it has to be a social effort.

Some ten years previously, pheromone baits were distributed to anyone in Colomi who wanted one. As Juan Almanza explained to me, the mayor’s office announced on the radio that people would receive bait if they took an empty plastic jug to the plant clinic, which operated every Thursday at the weekly fair in the municipal market. Oscar Díaz, who then ran the plant clinic for Proinpa, gave pheromone bait, valued at 25 Bs. (about $3.60), to hundreds of people. Farmers made the traps and used them for years. It may take five years or more for the pheromone to be exhausted from the bait.

Now, only a handful of households in Colomi still use the traps. But most farmers there do spray agrochemicals. Agrochemicals and their alternatives compete in an unfair contest, due in part to policy failure and profit motive. If pesticide shops all closed and farmers did not know where to buy more insecticide, its use would fall off quickly.

Had the municipal government periodically sold pheromone bait to farmers, they might still be making and using the traps.

During Covid, we all learned about supply chains. Sometimes, appropriate tools for agroecology, like pheromone traps, also rely on supplies from outside the farm community.  Manufacturers, distributors, and local government can all be part of this supply chain. Farmers can’t do it on their own.


Juan Almanza works for the Proinpa Foundation. He and Paul Van Mele read and commented on a previous version of this story.

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Jeff Bentley, 26 de marzo del 2023

A los agricultores les gustan los insecticidas porque son r√°pidos, f√°ciles de usar y bastante baratos, sobre todo si se ignoran los riesgos para la salud.

Afortunadamente, están surgiendo alternativas en todo el mundo. Los entomólogos están desarrollando trampas de feromonas, los olores que guían a los insectos para atacar, congregarse o aparearse. Cada especie tiene su propia feromona sexual, que los investigadores pueden aislar y sintetizar. Los insectos se sienten tan atraídos por las feromonas sexuales que se los puede usar para hacer trampas.

Yo había visto trampas de feromonas antes, usadas en la agricultura familiar en Nepal, así que me alegró ver dos variedades de trampas de feromonas en Bolivia.

Paul, Marcella y yo est√°bamos filmando un v√≠deo para agricultores sobre la polilla de la papa, una plaga que se mete en las papas en el campo y en almac√©n. Con el suficiente tiempo, las larvas de la peque√Īa polilla de la papa se comen una papa hasta convertirla en una masa de excremento.

Visitamos dos familias con Juan Almanza, un agrónomo de talento que está ayudando a los agricultores a probar trampas de feromonas, entre otras innovaciones.

Se impregna un trocito de goma con la feromona sexual que atrae al macho de la polilla de la papa. La goma se cuelga de un alambre dentro de una trampa de plástico. Un tipo de trampa es como un embudo, donde las polillas pueden entrar volando, pero no pueden salir. Los machos se sienten atraídos por el olor de una hembra receptiva, pero entonces quedan encerrados en una trampa sin salida. Nunca se aparean, así que las hembras no pueden poner huevos.

Agricultores Pastor Veizaga e Irene Claros nos ense√Īaron trampas que hab√≠an hecho en casa, usando un viejo bid√≥n de aceite de cocina. La botella se llena hasta la mitad con agua y detergente. La polilla vuela alrededor del cebo hasta que tropieza con el agua del detergente y muere.

Todos los agricultores que conocimos quedaron impresionados con estas sencillas trampas y con la cantidad de polillas que mataban. Unas pocas de estas trampas seguras y baratas, colgadas en un almac√©n de papas, podr√≠an ser parte de la soluci√≥n para proteger la papa, amada en todo el mundo tanto por la gente como por las polillas. La trampa de feromonas podr√≠a dar a los agricultores la oportunidad de enga√Īar a las polillas, sin insecticidas. Pero los agricultores no pueden adoptar las trampas de feromonas por s√≠ solos; tiene que ser un esfuerzo social.

Hace unos diez a√Īos, en Colomi se distribuyeron cebos de feromonas a todos que quer√≠an tener uno. Seg√ļn Juan Almanza me explic√≥, la alcald√≠a anunciaba por la radio que la gente recibir√≠a cebos si llevaba un bid√≥n de pl√°stico vac√≠a a la cl√≠nica de plantas, que funcionaba todos los jueves en la feria semanal, en el mercado municipal. Oscar D√≠az, que entonces dirig√≠a la cl√≠nica de plantas de Proinpa, entreg√≥ cebos de feromonas, valorados en 25 Bs. (unos $3,60), a cientos de personas. Los agricultores fabricaron las trampas y las usaron durante a√Īos. El cebo puede mantener su feromona durante unos cinco a√Īos o m√°s antes de que se agote.

Ahora, pocos hogares de Colomi siguen usando las trampas. Pero la mayoría de los agricultores si fumigan agroquímicos. Los agroquímicos y sus alternativas compiten en una competencia desleal, debida en parte al fracaso de las políticas y los intereses de lucro. Si todas las tiendas de plaguicidas cerraran sus puertas y los agricultores no supieran dónde comprar más insecticida, su uso caería rápidamente.

Si la alcaldía hubiera vendido periódicamente cebos con feromonas a los agricultores, quizá seguirían haciendo y usando las trampas.

Durante Covid, todos aprendimos acerca de las cadenas de suministro. A veces, las herramientas adecuadas para la agroecología, como las trampas de feromonas, también dependen de insumos externos a la comunidad agrícola.  Los fabricantes, los distribuidores y la administración local pueden formar parte de esta cadena de suministro. Los agricultores no pueden hacerlo solos.


Juan Almanza trabaja para la Fundaci√≥n Proinpa. √Čl y Paul Van Mele leyeron y comentaron sobre una versi√≥n previa de esta historia.

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Look me in the eyes September 25th, 2022 by

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

In Ecuador recently, I saw some of the best extension work I have ever seen. Fernando Jácome, an agronomist with SWISSAID took us to meet farmers, almost all women, who have been working with him and his colleagues for over ten years. 85 smallholders from different communities of Pelileo, in Tungurahua, in the Andes, are organized into seven small associations. They have learned to produce an impressive assortment of fruits and vegetables, from tomatoes to strawberries, cabbage, lettuce, avocadoes, lemons, blackberries and many more, as well as rabbits and guinea pigs. It’s all grown ecologically.

With Paul and Marcella, filming a video on agroecological fairs, we accompanied Ing. Alex Recalde, an agronomist working for the Pelileo municipality, as he inspected farms to make sure that they were really producing ecologically. Alex’s visits are largely about teaching and encouraging, with little policing, since the women all seem convinced about agroecology.

First, Alex registers what the farmers are growing. That way he knows what each one will harvest, to later verify in the fair that they are only selling their own produce, and in plausible amounts.

During the farm visits, often accompanied by leaders of the Agroecological Associations of Pelileo, Alex looks for signs of chemicals, such as discoloration on the leaves, or residues of synthetic fertilizer on the soil, or discarded chemical containers. He also looks at the insects on the farm. A diverse insect community with many beneficials and few pests is a sign that toxic chemicals have not been used.

If the farmer has any pests and diseases, Alex advises her on what to do. We were with him while he explained to farmer Korina Quille that the unsightly scabs on her avocados were not actually a disease at all, but they were simply scars formed because the wind had rubbed the tender fruits against a branch. Realizing that cosmetic damage is not caused by a pathogen can also reassure farmers that agroecology is working for them. It also helps them explain to customers that there is nothing wrong with their avocados.

Later that afternoon, we attended a meeting of the agroecological association. The organized women began by taking attendance (roll call). They had brought samples of their produce, for an exercise on displaying it attractively and in standard sized pots and baskets, so they could all sell the same measure at the same price, one that would be fair for farmers and consumers.

SWISSAID‚Äôs Mario Porres led a lively discussion, asking the audience: ‚ÄúHow can you have a standard measure, if the customers all insist on the yapa (a little bit extra)?‚ÄĚ He held up a basket of berries and said ‚Äúmeasure it, take a few out, and when the customer asks for the yapa, put them back in.‚ÄĚ The audience laughed in appreciation.

The meeting ended with a drama coach, Ver√≥nica L√≥pez, who used theatrical exercises to build the women‚Äôs self-confidence. Poor, peasant and indigenous women can be afraid to be assertive, but Ver√≥nica was teaching them to be bold and to have fun at the same time. The women knew Ver√≥nica, and as soon as she took the floor, everyone stood up. ‚ÄúWalk angry!‚ÄĚ Ver√≥nica shouted, ‚Äúyour husband has been telling you what to do!‚ÄĚ The women stomped around the courtyard, arms swinging, recalling their anger, over-acting and loving every minute of it.

‚ÄúNow, imagine that you bring that anger to the market, and you are angry with the customers. Will they want to buy from you?‚ÄĚ Ver√≥nica asked.

In another exercise, on love, the women hugged each other, and they learned to walk happy, not angry. The drama coach also had the women shout, part of an exercise where they learned to speak loudly, but kindly, looking customers in the eye, to win them over.

This training, encouragement and organization has opened a space where indigenous women can sell their beautiful produce in the local, open-air markets, in small cities like Pelileo, and in big ones like Ambato.

Later, we found out how well the training had paid off. One morning before dawn, I was with Paul and Marcella in the wholesale market in Ambato. This is the biggest market in Ecuador, a sprawling complex of pavilions with roofs, but no walls, where trucks loaded and unloaded produce. Fernando J√°come, the extensionist had brought us here, to the heart of the country‚Äôs commercial food system, but he left us for a while with Anita Quille, one of the women leaders of the association. When a local official approached us to ask why we were there with a big camera, do√Īa Anita stepped forward, and looked him in the eye. She spoke gently but firmly, in a self-confident tone of voice, explaining who we were, and that we were there making a video on local farmers, and markets.

All of the organization, training and acting classes on assertiveness had paid off.

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Thanks to Fernando J√°come and Paul Van Mele for their helpful comments on a previous version of this blog.


Jeff Bentley, 25 de septiembre del 2022

Hace poco, en Ecuador, vi uno de los mejores trabajos de extensi√≥n que he visto jam√°s. Fernando J√°come, agr√≥nomo de SWISSAID, nos llev√≥ a conocer a los agricultores, casi todas mujeres, que trabajan con √©l y sus colegas desde hace m√°s de diez a√Īos. 85 peque√Īas propietarias de diferentes comunidades de Pelileo, en Tungurahua, en los Andes, est√°n organizados en siete peque√Īas asociaciones. Han aprendido a producir un impresionante surtido de frutas y verduras, desde tomates a fresas, repollo, lechugas, aguacates, limones, moras y muchas m√°s, as√≠ como conejos y cuyes. Todo se cultiva de forma ecol√≥gica.

Con Paul y Marcella, filmando un video sobre ferias agroecol√≥gicas, acompa√Īamos al Ing. Alex Recalde, un agr√≥nomo que trabaja para el municipio de Pelileo, mientras inspeccionaba las granjas para asegurarse de que realmente produc√≠an de forma ecol√≥gica. Las visitas de Alex consisten en gran medida en ense√Īar y animar, no como polic√≠a sino como profesor, ya que todas las mujeres parecen convencidas de la agroecolog√≠a.

En primer lugar, Alex registra los cultivos que las agriculturas tienen en sus granjas. Así sabe lo que cada una va a cosechar, para luego verificar en la feria que solo se venda productos cultivados por ellas, y en cantidades creíbles.

En sus visitas, Alex a menudo es acompa√Īado por dirigentas de las Asociaciones Agroecol√≥gicas de Pelileo. Buscan signos de productos qu√≠micos, como decoloraci√≥n en las hojas, o residuos de fertilizantes sint√©ticos en el suelo, o envases de qu√≠micos desechados. Tambi√©n se fija en los insectos en la parcela. Una diversa comunidad de insectos, muchos ben√©ficos y pocas plagas, es se√Īal de que no se han usado qu√≠micos t√≥xicos.

Si la productora tiene alguna plaga o enfermedad, Alex le aconseja qu√© hacer. Estuvimos con √©l mientras explicaba a Korina Quille que las desagradables costras de sus aguacates no eran en realidad una enfermedad, sino que eran simplemente cicatrices formadas porque el viento hab√≠a rozado los tiernos frutos contra una rama. Darse cuenta de que los da√Īos est√©ticos no est√°n causados por un pat√≥geno tambi√©n puede tranquilizar a las agricultoras, y confirmar que las pr√°cticas agroecol√≥gicas les est√°n funcionando. Tambi√©n les ayuda a explicar a los clientes que no hay nada malo en sus aguacates.

Esa misma tarde, asistimos a una reuni√≥n de la asociaci√≥n agroecol√≥gica local. Las mujeres organizadas empezaron pasando lista. Hab√≠an tra√≠do muestras de sus productos, para hacer un ejercicio de exposici√≥n atractiva, en macetas y cestas de tama√Īo est√°ndar, de manera que todas pudieran vender la misma medida al mismo precio, uno que fuera justo para productoras y consumidores.

Mario Porres, de SWISSAID, dirigi√≥ un animado debate, preguntando a las asistentes: “¬ŅC√≥mo se puede tener una medida est√°ndar, si todos los clientes insisten en la yapa (un poco m√°s)?”. Levant√≥ una cesta de bayas y dijo: “m√≠dela, quita algunas y cuando el cliente pida la yapa, vuelve a ponerlas”. El p√ļblico se rio en se√Īal de empat√≠a.

La reuni√≥n termin√≥ con una lecci√≥n de una maestra de teatro, Ver√≥nica L√≥pez, que us√≥ varios ejercicios para aumentar la confianza de las mujeres en s√≠ mismas. Las mujeres pobres, campesinas e ind√≠genas pueden tener miedo de ser asertivas, pero Ver√≥nica les ense√Īaba a ser audaces y a divertirse al mismo tiempo. Las se√Īoras conoc√≠an a Ver√≥nica y, en cuanto tomaba la palabra, todas se pusieron de pie. “¬°Caminen enfadadas!” grit√≥ Ver√≥nica, “¬°tu marido te ha dicho lo que tienes que hacer!”. Las mujeres caminaban por el patio, moviendo los brazos, recordando su enojo, sobreactuando y disfrutando de cada minuto.

“Ahora, imagina que llevas ese enfado al mercado y te enfadas con los clientes. ¬ŅQuerr√°n comprarte?” pregunt√≥ Ver√≥nica.

En otro ejercicio, sobre el amor, las mujeres se abrazaron y aprendieron a caminar felices, no enfadadas. La teatrera también hizo que las mujeres gritaran, parte de un ejercicio en el que aprendieron a hablar en voz alta, pero con amabilidad, mirando a los clientes a los ojos, para ganárselos.

Esta formaci√≥n, el est√≠mulo y la organizaci√≥n, han abierto un espacio en el que las mujeres campesinas pueden vender sus hermosos productos en los mercados locales al aire libre, en ciudades peque√Īas como Pelileo, y en las grandes como Ambato.

M√°s tarde, nos dimos cuenta de lo bien que hab√≠a dado resultado la formaci√≥n. Una ma√Īana, antes del amanecer, estaba con Paul y Marcella en el mercado mayorista de Ambato. Es el mercado m√°s grande de Ecuador, un complejo de pabellones con techo, pero sin paredes, donde los camiones cargan y descargan productos. Fernando J√°come, el extensionista, nos hab√≠a tra√≠do hasta aqu√≠, al coraz√≥n del sistema comercial de alimentos del pa√≠s, pero nos dej√≥ un rato con Anita Quille, una de las mujeres l√≠deres de la asociaci√≥n. Cuando un funcionario local se acerc√≥ a preguntarnos por qu√© est√°bamos all√≠ con una c√°mara grande, do√Īa Anita se adelant√≥ y le mir√≥ a los ojos. Habl√≥ con suavidad, pero con firmeza, con un tono de voz seguro de s√≠ misma, explicando qui√©nes √©ramos, y que est√°bamos all√≠ haciendo un video sobre los agricultores locales, y los mercados.

Toda la organización, el entrenamiento y las clases de actuación sobre asertividad habían dado sus frutos.

Previamente en el blog de Agro-Insight

Marketing as a performance

When local authorities support agroecology

Vea el video

Creando ferias agroecológicas


Gracias a Fernando Jácome y Paul Van Mele por sus valiosos comentarios sobre una versión previa de este blog.

Native potatoes September 11th, 2022 by

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

Peru’s native potatoes are a living treasure of 4,000 varieties that come in red, purple, yellow and black. Round or long, smooth or knobby, each one is different, and tasty. But for years, city people ignored the native potato, considered to be the inferior food of poor people.

Some farmers and their allies are fighting to keep the native potato alive. Over 20 years ago, Peruvian agronomist Ra√ļl Ccanto was one of the people who realized that native potatoes could survive, if people in the city would buy them.

A brand name was created, Mishki Papa‚ÄĒroughly translating as ‚Äútasty potato‚ÄĚ, and the little tubers were displayed in a net bag, so customers could see their unique beauty. To produce the potatoes, 50 farmers were organized into the newly created Association of the Guardians of Native Potatoes of Peru (Aguapan).

I told Ra√ļl that I used to buy these potatoes at an upscale supermarket when I lived in Peru in 2010. Ra√ļl explained that Aguapan was no longer selling through the supermarket, which would only pay for the potatoes two weeks after they had taken delivery and would return any unsold ones, paying the farmers only 1.30 soles (about 30 cents of a dollar), while charging customers 4.30 soles. Perhaps most discouraging, the supermarket only accepted three or four varieties of potatoes, while farmers grew dozens. As Ra√ļl explained, if consumers only bought four varieties, the others would still be endangered.

In recent years, two European farmers’ organizations (Agrico and HZCP) have each given Aguapan 15,000 Euros to help them market potatoes. Paul and Marcella and I visited the president of Aguapan, Elmer Chávez, while he harvested native potatoes with his family in the village of Vista Alegre, in Huancavelica, at 3,900 meters above sea level (12,800 feet). At this staggering altitude, where we struggled just to breathe and walk at the same time, the Chávez family was hard at work, carefully unearthing each variety..

From each of the 80 varieties, the family saves five potatoes as seed for next year. The rest are to eat at home and to sell. The family works hard against a deadline. We were there on a Friday, and on Monday morning don Elmer had to be at a trucking company in Huancayo, 30 km away, to ship half a ton of potatoes.

In Lima, representatives of Yanapai (an NGO that collaborates with Aguapan) will receive the potatoes, advertise them on social media, keep them in a warehouse and take orders from individual customers. On the following Friday, the potatoes will be sold in two-kilo net bags, with as many as 18 varieties in each little sack. Ra√ļl explains that this is called a chaqru (from the Quechua word for ‚Äúmix‚ÄĚ). Each farm family produces its own special mix, selected over the years to have the same cooking time, and to combine nicely on the plate.

To promote the potatoes, Yanapai has made a catalog of the varieties and a booklet describing individual farmers and the unique mix of potatoes that each one has.

As agronomist Edgar Olivera of Yanapai explains, the delivery service still requires some financial and technical support, but the hope is that one day it will be self-sustaining. Many farmers have grown children who now live in the big, capital city of Lima. Some of the children of farmers may one day be able to earn money selling the native potatoes from their home villages, turning the gem-like potatoes of their parents into a real source of income for the families who nurture them.

Further reading

Ministerio de Agricultura y Riego (MINAGRI); Grupo Yanapai; Instituto Nacional de Innovaci√≥n Agraria (INIA); Centro Internacional de la Papa (CIP). 2017. Cat√°logo de variedades de papa nativa del sureste del departamento de Jun√≠n – Per√ļ. Lima. Centro Internacional de la Papa. ISBN 978-92-9060-208-8. 228 p. https://cgspace.cgiar.org/handle/10568/89110

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The visit to Peru to film various farmer-to-farmer training videos, including this one, was made possible with the kind support of the Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP) of the McKnight Foundation. Thanks to Edgar Olivera, Ra√ļl Ccanto, Jhon Huaraca and colleagues of the Grupo Yanapai for introducing us to the farmers of Aguapan and for sharing their knowledge with us.


Por Jeff Bentley, 11 de septiembre del 2022

Las papas nativas de Per√ļ son un tesoro vivo de 4.000 variedades, entre rojas, moradas, amarillas y negras. Redondas o largas, lisas o nudosas, cada una es diferente, y sabrosa. Pero durante a√Īos, la gente de la ciudad ignor√≥ la papa nativa, considerada como el alimento inferior de los pobres.

Algunos agricultores y sus aliados luchan por mantener viva la papa nativa. Hace m√°s de 20 a√Īos, el ingeniero agr√≥nomo peruano Ra√ļl Ccanto era una de las personas que se dieron cuenta de que la papa nativa pod√≠a sobrevivir si la gente de la ciudad la compraba.

Se cre√≥ una marca, Mishki Papa‚ÄĒque se traduce aproximadamente como “papa sabrosa”‚ÄĒ y los peque√Īos tub√©rculos se presentaban en una bolsa de red para que los clientes pudieran apreciar su belleza. Para producir las papas, 50 agricultores se organizaron en la reci√©n creada Asociaci√≥n Nacional de Guardianes de la Papa Nativa de Per√ļ (Aguapan).

Le dije a Ra√ļl que yo sol√≠a comprar estas papas en un supermercado bien surtido cuando viv√≠a en Per√ļ en 2010. Ra√ļl me explic√≥ que Aguapan ya no vend√≠a a trav√©s del supermercado, que s√≥lo pagaba las papas dos semanas despu√©s de recibirlas y devolv√≠a las que no se vend√≠an, pagando a los agricultores s√≥lo 1,30 soles (unos 30 centavos de d√≥lar), mientras que cobraba a los clientes 4,30 soles. Lo m√°s desalentador es que el supermercado s√≥lo aceptaba tres o cuatro variedades de papas, mientras que los agricultores cultivaban docenas. Como explic√≥ Ra√ļl, si los consumidores s√≥lo compraran cuatro variedades, las dem√°s seguir√≠an en peligro de extinci√≥n.

En los √ļltimos a√Īos, dos organizaciones europeas de agricultores (Agrico y HZCP) han dado a Aguapan 15.000 euros cada una para ayudarles a comercializar las papas. Paul, Marcella y yo visitamos al presidente de Aguapan, Elmer Ch√°vez, mientras cosechaba papas nativas con su familia en el pueblo de Vista Alegre, en Huancavelica, a 3.900 metros sobre el nivel del mar. A esta incre√≠ble altitud, en la que nos costaba respirar y caminar al mismo tiempo, la familia Ch√°vez se entusiasmaba de desenterrar cuidadosamente cada variedad.

De cada una de las 80 variedades, la familia guarda cinco papas como semilla para el pr√≥ximo a√Īo. El resto son para la olla o para la venta. La familia trabaja duro con un plazo l√≠mite. Estuvimos all√≠ un viernes, y el lunes por la ma√Īana don Elmer ten√≠a que estar en una empresa de transportes de Huancayo, a 30 km, para enviar media tonelada de papas.

En Lima, los representantes de Yanapai (una ONG que colabora con Aguapan) recibir√°n las papas, las anunciar√°n en las redes sociales, las guardar√°n en un almac√©n y tomar√°n los pedidos de los clientes particulares. El viernes siguiente, las papas se vender√°n en bolsas de red de dos kilos, con hasta 18 variedades en cada peque√Īo saco. Ra√ļl explica que esto se llama chaqru (de la palabra quechua para “mezcla”). Cada familia campesina produce su propia mezcla especial, seleccionada a lo largo de los a√Īos para que tenga el mismo tiempo de cocci√≥n, y para que combine bien en el plato.

Para promocionar sus papas, Yanapai ha publicado un cat√°logo de las variedades y un folleto en el que se describe a cada agricultor y la mezcla √ļnica de papas que tiene cada persona.

Como explica el ingeniero Edgar Olivera, de Yanapai, el servicio de entrega a√ļn requiere cierto apoyo financiero y t√©cnico, pero la esperanza es que alg√ļn d√≠a sea autosuficiente. Muchos agricultores tienen hijos mayores que ahora viven en la ciudad capital de Lima, y es posible que algunos de ellos puedan alg√ļn d√≠a ganar dinero vendiendo las papas nativas de sus pueblos de origen, convirtiendo esta riqueza gen√©tica en una fuente de ingresos para las familias que la cultiva.

Lectura adicional

Ministerio de Agricultura y Riego (MINAGRI); Grupo Yanapai; Instituto Nacional de Innovaci√≥n Agraria (INIA); Centro Internacional de la Papa (CIP). 2017. Cat√°logo de variedades de papa nativa del sureste del departamento de Jun√≠n – Per√ļ. Lima. Centro Internacional de la Papa. ISBN 978-92-9060-208-8. 228 p. https://cgspace.cgiar.org/handle/10568/89110

Previamente en el blog de Agro-Insight

Papas nativas, deliciosas y vulnerables

Mermelada de papa

Making farmers anonymous

Vea el video:

Recuperemos las Papas Nativas


Nuestra visita al Per√ļ para filmar varios videos, incluso este, fue posible gracias al generoso apoyo del Programa Colaborativo de Investigaci√≥n de Cultivos (CCRP) de la Fundaci√≥n McKnight. Gracias a Edgar Olivera, Ra√ļl Ccanto, Jhon Huaraca y colegas del Grupo Yanapai por presentarnos a los miembros de Aguapan y por compartir su conocimiento con nosotros.

Staying grounded while on the air in Ghana March 21st, 2021 by

It’s a simple matter to play a soundtrack about farming on the radio. The tricky part is making sure that the program connects with the audience, as I learned recently from Gideon Kwame Sarkodie Osei at ADARS FM, a commercial station in Kintampo, a town in central Ghana.

Since 2010 Gideon has been pleased to be part of an effort by Farm Radio International (FRI) that supported radio stations in Ghana, including ADARS FM, to reach out to farmers. With encouragement from FRI, Gideon started a weekly magazine show for farmers, where he plays Access Agriculture audio tracks. The magazine, Akuafo Mo, means ‚ÄúThank You Farmers‚ÄĚ in the Twi language. Before he started the show, Gideon (together with FRI) did a baseline study of the farmers in his audience. He found that they had more time on Monday evenings. Farm women do more work and have less time than most people, but they told Gideon that they were usually done with their chores by 8 PM, so that‚Äôs when he airs Akuafo Mo, every Monday for an hour.

The show starts with recorded interviews, where farmers explain their own knowledge of a certain topic, like aflatoxin, which is so important that Gideon had several episodes on this hidden toxin that can contaminate stored foodstuffs. After the interviews, Gideon plays an audio track, to share fresh ideas with his audience. Gideon has played Access Agriculture audios so often he can‚Äôt remember how many he has played. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a lot more than 50,‚ÄĚ he explains.

Gideon plays a portion of the audio in English, and then he stops to translate that part into Twi, the language of the Ashanti people. Every week there is a guest on the show, an extension agent who can discuss the topic and take questions from listeners who call in.

Gideon‚Äôs experience with the magazine inspired him to start listener groups, in coordination with FRI. Visiting listener communities, Gideon found that some did not have a radio set. So, with project support, he bought them one. ‚ÄúWe give them radio sets so they can come together weekly and listen to the magazine,‚ÄĚ Gideon told me. He has 20 groups, each with 12 to 30 people. Five groups are only for women, especially in areas where males and females don‚Äôt casually mingle. The other listener groups have men and women.

Gideon visits at least some of the groups every week. Because of these visits, Gideon is now downloading videos as well as audio from Access Agriculture. ‚ÄúSometimes I see if they have electricity, and I rent a projector, to show them the video they have heard on the air.‚ÄĚ Gideon says. ‚ÄúThis is my initiative, going the extra mile.‚ÄĚ

Some of the farmers are learning to sell their groundnuts, maize and other cereals as a group, netting them extra money and helping them to be self-sustaining.

Gideon is also a trainer for FRI. Before Covid, he would travel to other towns and cities in Ghana, meet other broadcasters, and go to the field with them to show them how to improve their interview skills and to craft their own magazine shows. Now he continues to train broadcasters, but online.

Working with the farmer listening groups gives Gideon insights into farmers’ needs and knowledge, making his magazine so authentic that 60,000 people tune in. That experience gives Gideon the confidence to train other broadcasters all over Ghana.

When I was in Ghana a few years ago, I met excellent extension agents who told me how frustrated they were to be responsible for reaching 3,000 farmers. It was impossible to have a quality interaction with all those farmers.

However, there are ways to communicate a thoughtful message with a large audience, for example with a good radio magazine.

Gideon has creatively blended his own expertise with resources from two communication-oriented non-profit organisations: Farm Radio International and Access Agriculture. Hopefully, his experience will inspire other broadcasters.

Videos in the languages of Ghana

Find videos and soundtracks in these languages of Ghana: Buli, Dagaari, Dagbani, Ewe, Frafra, Gonja, Hausa, Kabyé, Kusaal, Moba, Sisaala, Twi, Zarma and English.

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


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.


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


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.

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