No javascript detected! Our online shopping basket requires javascript. You can also complete your order by phone at 855.9HUNGER
You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security. You can also complete your order by phone at 855.9HUNGER

In the spectacular landscape of the Peruvian Andes, very little grows. Heifer alpaca projects address nutrition and climate change vulnerability in a precarious environment.

By Brooke Edwards, Heifer International writer
Photos by Dave Anderson

In the Andean highlands of Peru, 13,000 feet above sea level, very little can grow. The air is thin, the water scarce, the earth rocky and infertile. Against a backdrop of glacier-capped mountains, however, indigenous families survived since ancient Incan times by raising hearty alpacas. Climate change, severe deterioration of water sources and pasture, low incomes, low market value of alpaca varieties and little diversity of food in more recent times have made life here even more tenuous. Heifer International's Alpaca Biodiversity in High Andean Communities Project works in 22 indigenous, small- farming communities to reduce vulnerability to climate change and food insecurity of 4,333 alpaca-raising families.

Alpacas are gentle not only to their human caretakers but also on the land. They eat scrub vegetation other livestock won't eat, and their padded feet don't damage the fragile terrain. Their droppings help fertilize the topsoil, improving crops and reducing erosion. The exceptionally soft wool is collected without injuring the animal, providing Heifer families with fine material to make blankets, ponchos, hats and carpets.

Three key factors prevent alpaca-raising families from earning higher incomes from the sale of their products: low genetic quality of the alpaca herds, low quality of the alpaca fiber and textiles due to poor quality control during shearing and processing and the use of intermediaries to sell their products.

As the alpaca wool industry flourished in Peru over the last century, alpaca farmers turned their focus away from the natural variability of alpaca colors to produce only white stock. White fiber is easier to dye, making it more valued on the commercial market. However, this practice resulted in a gradual loss of biodiversity and richness of the species and, therefore, a level of vulnerability to external commercial interests these indigenous families cannot afford. 


A more recent shift in smaller, local markets' preference for natural colors of wool has led to a resurgence in breeding alpacas in a variety of hues, which are in turn genetically more resilient and resistant to climate change.

Artisan goods made with natural colors of wool sell for high prices to tourists. For a farmer to get a good price for the wool, however, the color must be uniform. Although adorable, this alpaca (at right) is of lower quality than desired, according to alpaca farmer Lucio Mandura Crispin. The reason? She has three distinct shades of fiber.

Crispin learned techniques to improve the genetics of his livestock through training from Heifer International's Peru country program. Now, instead of depending on the sale of his alpacas' wool, his income comes largely from selling high-quality breeding stock, which can bring in as much as $5,000 each.

Crispin, posing with one of his award- winning, solid-brown alpacas in his community of Fundo Tumpata, Pacchanta, says he loves his alpacas almost as much as he loves his wife.

So far, Crispin has won 150 awards for his alpacas' fiber color, quality and conformity. In addition to recognition, Crispin also received tools, irrigation supplies and veterinary products to improve his farm.

The successes of farmers like Crispin who raise quality breeding stock trickle down to the rest of the community. High-quality breeders yield offspring with high-quality wool, which can be sold raw at higher prices than before or woven into beautiful products for sale.

Free Download

You only need to enter this information once to download digital resources.

My Basket
Need Help?

Basket Summary

edit

{{ product.title }} {{ product.subTitle }}

Qty: {{ product.quantity }} @ {{ product.price | currency }} Qty: {{ product.quantity }} @ FREE Monthly
{{ (product.quantity * product.price) | currency }} Free

No products in cart.

Additional Impact {{ processingFee | currency }} Sub-total {{ cartSubTotal | currency }} Shipping Cost {{ orderShippingCost | currency }} NOT YET CALCULATED Tax Cost {{ orderTax | currency }} NOT YET CALCULATED Total {{ cartTotal | currency }} Monthly Total {{ cartSubscriptionTotal | currency }}

{{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

edit

Billing Address

{{ billingAddress.first_name }} {{ billingAddress.last_name }} {{ billingAddress.address_1 }} {{ billingAddress.address_2 }} {{ billingAddress.city }}, {{ billingAddress.state }} {{ billingAddress.zip }} {{ billingAddress.country }}

Company

{{ billingAddress.company }}

Shipping Address

{{ shippingAddress.first_name }} {{ shippingAddress.last_name }} {{ shippingAddress.address_1 }} {{ shippingAddress.address_2 }} {{ shippingAddress.city }}, {{ shippingAddress.state }} {{ shippingAddress.zip }} {{ shippingAddress.country }}

Basket Summary

Step 1 of 2 Step 1 of 3
All major credit cards and Paypal accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
All major credit cards accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
Your basket has been updated.
The following item(s) are now sold-out or unavailable and have been removed from your cart:
-{{ product.title }} {{ product.subTitle}} ({{ product.quantity}})

{{ nag.title }}

{{ nag.description }}

{{ product.title }} {{ product.subTitle }} To: {{ product.giftCardRecipientName }} From: {{ product.giftCardSenderPrint }} Email: {{ product.giftCardRecipientEmail }} Delivery: {{ product.giftCardDeliveryDate }} Message: {{ product.giftCardMessage | truncate '200' }} Delivery: {{ product.additional_info['deliveryDate'] }} Message: {{ product.additional_info['personalMessage'] | truncate '200' }} 1 {{prods["title"]}}

{{ (product.quantity * product.price) | currency }}/month
You've reached the maximum number of products for this item.
You've reached the maximum number of products for this item.
${{ product.price }}
$ {{ product.price }} Free
Monthly
Remove
Subtotal {{ cartSubTotal | currency }}
Monthly Subtotal {{ cartSubscriptionTotal | currency }}
It's not a hand out. It's a hand up.

For maximum impact, try adding a few items to your basket.

Browse The Gift Catalog
Secured Checkout

Increase Your Impact with a Donation Visit the Gift Catalog

Make an even bigger impact with a donation from our Gift Catalog

Responsibly-Sourced, Artisan-Friendly Gifts Shop the Marketplace

Shop the Marketplace for responsibly-sourced, artisan-friendly gifts
Secured Checkout
Secured Checkout
Edit Basket Summary

{{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

Step 2 of 2 Step 2 of 3
All major credit cards and Paypal accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
All major credit cards accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
Shipping Information

If you have received a gift catalog in the mail please enter the highlighted code that begins with a "D" or a "P" in the source code box below. If you have not received a Heifer Gift Catalog please leave the source code blank.

Shipping Address
Secured Checkout
Secured Checkout
Edit Basket Summary

{{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

Step 2 of 2 Step 2 of 3
All major credit cards and Paypal accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
All major credit cards accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
Billing Information
Enter your company name to see if your employer will match your gift.

If you have received a gift catalog in the mail please enter the highlighted code that begins with a "D" or a "P" in the source code box below. If you have not received a Heifer Gift Catalog please leave the source code blank.

Billing Address
Secured Checkout
Secured Checkout
Edit Basket Summary

{{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

Step 2 of 2 Step 2 of 3
All major credit cards and Paypal accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
All major credit cards accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
Billing Information
Enter your company name to see if your employer will match your gift.

If you have received a gift catalog in the mail please enter the highlighted code that begins with a "D" or a "P" in the source code box below. If you have not received a Heifer Gift Catalog please leave the source code blank.

Billing Address
Shipping Information

If you have received a gift catalog in the mail please enter the highlighted code that begins with a "D" or a "P" in the source code box below. If you have not received a Heifer Gift Catalog please leave the source code blank.

Shipping Address
Secured Checkout
Secured Checkout
Edit Basket Summary Edit {{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

Payment Information

Step 3 of 3
All major credit cards and Paypal accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
All major credit cards accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.

Payment Summary

Additional Impact {{ processingFee | currency }} Sub-total {{ cartSubTotal | currency }} Shipping Cost {{ orderShippingCost | currency }} NOT YET CALCULATED Tax Cost {{ orderTax | currency }} NOT YET CALCULATED Total {{ cartTotal | currency }} Monthly Total {{ cartSubscriptionTotal | currency }}

Pay By Credit Card
Pay with
Pay with
We were not able to process your request. Please try again or contact Donor Services at 855.9HUNGER (855.948.6437).
Secured Checkout