Economic plan inspires mountain towns

By Gloria Santos and Jesusa Aburto

Two mountain communities we work with in Lima Region have launched a comprehensive community development program. Madeán and Huangáscar, in Yauyos province, lie at an altitude of 2,500 metres and 3,500 metres above sea level. They are involved in agriculture and cattle farming, which are being affected by climate change and other factors.

Following a request from some of their residents, ICA Peru, in collaboration with ICA Australia,  designed a two-year plan of action with the support of the local authorities. It has two phases. First, leaders from the communities get trained through an internship program and, second, they get the communities involved in implementing productive projects.

We held a five-day leadership skills training for 14 people from both communities at ICA’s training centre in Azpitia, Mala valley, in December. The next month, the trainees held “intervention”  sessions in both communities. With help from ICA-Peru staff, they got residents to talk about their vision for the future at a workshop. They gave a presentation on how the communities could boost their economy by using their own produce such as potatoes, barley, corn and beans instead of goods from outside. They showed how to make potato chips and fried beans and thus add value to harvested produce. In Madean, they installed a drip irrigation system. Farmers said it would be useful for cultivating avocado, peach and animal fodder and allow more water control. Another effective demonstration was on how the town’s organic waste could be turned into fertilizer.

The intervention changed attitudes. Said one resident: “We produce potatoes but we were buying chips from the potato Lays factory. Now we know how to prepare healthy chips.” The intervention also strengthened ties between the communities and won the support of the authorities, who are keen to implement an irrigation pilot project. An organic farming project would help to make this sustainable.

We are holding meetings with various institutions for the second phase of the project. We are also getting phone calls and visits from other communities near Huangáscar who wish to send people to Azpitia to get trained. We met Lima Region’s General Manager, Dr Luis Custodio, to talk about the project and about sustainable Irrigation technology for Madeán and Huangáscar. He has expressed interest in providing support.

To colleagues in the ICA network, if you have links with institutions that may wish to support this type of project, please contact us at admin@ica-peru.org or glorias@ica-peru.org. We will be very grateful.

Gloria Santos is involved with community leadership programmes while Jesusa Aburto is the coordinator at the training centre in Azpitia.

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