In yesterday’s meeting,
we had a lot of interesting conversations about conflicts between individual or collective land ownership and mining rights.
In Peru, if you own your land individually, you can take out loans from the bank and enter the economic mainstream. This can be a good thing. But what if the plot you get doesn’t have a blade of grass on it? How do you raise livestock and vegetables?
If your community owns its land collectively, you can put your livestock on the community pasture. But what if you want to raise more animals than what the pasture can support?
No matter who owns the land, the national government can always allow mining companies to come in and dig/drill/etc., which has led to great environmental degradation.
Excessive use of agrochemicals (especially for growing rice, cotton and corn) has led to the salinization of a lot of the land–it’s now too salty to grow anything.
Heifer Peru’s approach has been to expand the variety of the crops grown and eaten. Using livestock and beekeeping as a means to earn income, forests that might otherwise be burned for charcoal become protected. In addition to supporting farmers, Heifer supports family businesses and entrepreneurship.