Coping with climate variability and change thanks to local knowledge and modern science in Bolivia

The small farmers of the Bolivian highlands have a subsistence livelihood. Their living conditions are becoming harder due to the growing shortage of water. Local knowledge combined with improved practices are the first step in adapting to these changes and avoiding food shortages.

The potentials for food production on the Bolivian altiplano (2,500-4,000 metres above sea level) are limited: Extreme temperatures, drought and a shortage of water make small farmers’ lives difficult and challenging. The consequences of the climate change 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.

Pacífico Lima
image description We small farmers are now 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. image description Pacífico Lima, Comunidad Belen Iquiaca

Helvetas Bolivia

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