Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Farm visits outside of Piura, Peru

The staff from The Institute for Self Reliant Agriculture (SRA) took us to three farms outside of Piura. These are small land owners that have young under nourished families. SRA does an initial assessment of the families and then works with them with the goal of improving their nutrition and economic situation. In the best scenarios the families become nutritionally self sufficient or self reliant.

The crop has been planted and is coming up, now he needs the irrigation water.
The area outside of Pirua is a desert but large dams provide water that turns it into fertile farm ground. Unfortunately the powerful irrigation companies control the water and can usually determine what the farmers produce. Rice uses a lot of  water and they make money selling water to the farmers so they require everyone to plant rice. If they don't the water flooding over the fields kills their other crops. This farmer is taking a chance on other crops like corn and beans. If they turn out ok they will bring him more nutritious  food for his family.

This farmer still cultivates by hand and with a horse but he has a cell phone also.
The agronomist from SRA works with the farmer to show him the other crops that he can grow and gives him the seeds that he needs. The SRA nutritionist works with the family to show them which plants provide the nutrients that their children are missing.

One of the challenges of this farmer is that people come and steal his produce. One of his neighbors has some very nice sweet potatos growing. It happens to be the same variety that was stolen from his garden a short time ago. In this area robbery of the crops is very common.

Guinea Pigs are an important protein source and grow quickly.
Chickens and turkeys provide eggs and meat to improve the children's nutrition.
The SRA animal scientist works with the families to help them develop housing for animals so they are protected from diseases and predators. They also work with the agronomist who teaches them how to grow  feed for the animals.
This farmer is very happy with the new food that he is learning to grow.

In just a few months the chain of poverty and malnutrition of these families is being broken. Under ideal conditions families can reach nutritional self sufficiency in two years. They now have the knowledge to break the chain of poverty.

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