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Heifer is working in 14 communities in Peru that have some of the highest poverty rates in the country, as well as high rates of child malnutrition. With recurring cold spells, this area is characterized by harsh weather conditions that are not conducive for agriculture and raising livestock. Farming and animal raising are done mainly for subsistence, and low levels of production and little participation in the market characterize both activities.
The project will strengthen quality of life for 640 small farmer families by enhancing the genetic biodiversity of South American camelids (mainly alpacas and llamas), sheep and Andean crops through agroecology. Natural pastures will also be improved, as will the small farmer communities and bonds between communities. The purpose is to help improve the families' living conditions, with food security and access to local and regional markets. These efforts will create opportunities to protect the small farmer lifestyle and improve their food sovereignty.
At the Development Plan for the Chuchiuto Province in Juli meetings, project participants explained food sovereignty to public and private institutions that didn't grasp the concept. Their knowledge and rationale ensured that their strategic and priority projects were included in the development plan through 2021. The plan now includes managing the biodiversity of alpacas and food sovereignty. This project helped local participants influence local and regional governmental decision-making.
The alpaca herds in this area of Peru are also of poor genetic quality. Because of this, community members would never think about showing their animals in regional events. With the increased genetic quality in their herds from this project, they are now participating and winning regional fairs. Ernesto Calisaya won first place for his colored alpacas at the Ispalla 2011 Fair.
"They only raised the animals for their fiber," said Norma Calizaya, a Lihuayto community leader. "They never thought they could win first place."