Article submitted by Joe Tice, Field Specialist in Peru
I was invited to a church anniversary celebration for one of the indigenous congregations we work with. The village, Santa Clara, was a day’s travel up river. The anniversary was a three day celebration. There were over three hundred people there for the weekend; the congregation of Santa Clara, which is a little less than one hundred people, and the rest were from various villages in the area. They celebrated by having church services long into the night, devotions around 5 a.m. every morning, and programs all day Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday afternoon there was a baptism of 25 people. It was a blessing to have the opportunity to go to the area and meet the kind of people that I will be doing development work with soon. Now, I have a much better understanding of the context in which the people live.The week after getting back from Santa Clara, I had meetings with the team I will be working with so we could develop the year plan for the research farm and the development projects. There is no shortage of ideas for the farm and for the Indian communities; the difficult thing is deciding where to concentrate our efforts and allocate our limited resources of funding, personnel, and learning capacity of the people we are working with.
The farm currently has no steady funding. There are some projects that will start generating income over the next couple of months and we are working hard at getting 4 different crops in the ground by the end of this week. Three of these will generate income within 4 months and the other within a year. Hopefully, if we have the money to invest, the farm will become completely self-sufficient within the next year. The challenge is that true demonstration and research projects do not generate income like purely commercial projects. The goal is for the farm to be self-sufficient and produce seed and livestock to distribute among the Indian villages we will be working with.
We are planning a conference at the farm for November when we will teach planting techniques for corn and beans. Following the November conference, we will do monitoring trips through the communities throughout the growing season (starting in December through April) to see how they are implementing the new knowledge and to provide guidance. We are also hoping to “loan” improved seed varieties of both corn and beans.