Coping with climate variability and change thanks to local knowledge and modern science
The potentials for food production on the Bolivian altiplano (2,500-4,000 metres above sea level) are seriously limited. Extreme temperatures, drought and a shortage of water make small farmers’ lives difficult and challenging. The variable and changing climate in the Andes adds to their woes. Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation is helping farmers to adapt their production methods to these unfavourable conditions in order to ensure household food security.
The success of the project depends on cooperation with the 'Yapuchiris'. These are highly experienced and respected farmers, who act as multipliers and share their knowledge with others. Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation helps them to combine their traditional knowledge about fluctuations in the local climate and bio-indicators with new agro-ecological information and options. They are thus able to optimize how people sow and produce crops for their own consumption and for the market. The Yapuchiris advise other farmers on the ideal time to begin sowing and on crops and varieties that are resistant to extreme temperatures and drought. They also pass on their knowledge about the use of organic fertilizers and bio-pesticides. They help local farmers’ organizations to set up centres for the production of organic fertilizers and bio-pesticides.
We small farmers are less afraid of bad weather than we used to be. Over the last few years we have taken measures so that we can deal with extreme frosts, droughts and hailstorms better. Our yields have increased as a result and we earn more.Pacífico Lima, Comunidad Belen Iquiaca