A new agricultural institution in Peru mimics traditional practices to help disseminate irrigation technology that both preserves soil nutrients and lets farmers harvest off-season.
“The program, Yachachiq, has introduced watering by sprinklers and trickle irrigation to better utilize underground water sources. The results are higher yielding harvests, better pastures for animals, and production during the whole year in the communities working with a Yachachiq, a leader in each community in charge of preserving traditional knowledge. This person acts as a technology leader who receives training to adapt, preserve and disseminate this knowledge. Farmers of these communities have annual meetings where they exchange their knowledge as their ancestors did with the “Hatun Tinkuy”, ancestor of the Yachachiq institution. Initially the program targeted 1,800 families in several communities, but now it reaches 30,000 families.
Through a Yachachiq, the community can apply for financing from public funds and international agencies provide matching grants. For example, the Proyecto Subsectorial de irrigacion (PSI) —an irrigation program— has taken a loan from the World Bank to support these initiatives on 170,260 hectares of land over the next five years (2011-2015), which will benefit 194,391 people in 2,696 communities in the provinces of Piura, Cajamarca, Ancash, Junín, Huancavelica, Ayacucho, Cusco, Arequipa and Puno.”
This program not only helps improve yields but also lessens dependence on rainfall and builds culturally sensitive institutions, which can take advantage of social/cultural capital in responding to Climate Change.
“Most farmers in the Andean region in Peru experience three months of rain during the year to grow crops and expand their pastures, while during the other nine months there is little rain and therefore no production. The main challenge is to reduce the dependence on rainfall and thus have a longer productive period. Irrigation by rain usually erodes the land causing a loss of nutrients. The Yachachiq initiative could provide a sustainable and environmentally friendly solution to this situation. This is good news, because combining traditional knowledge, Andean farmers’ institutional traditions and financing could be an innovative and culturally sensitive solution to climate change impacts.”
FORO June 2011 pages 10: