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Peru: Better vegetables and richer harvest

A new beginning in the Andes

After the civil war, farmers in Ayacucho are planting vegetable gardens and fields

The villagers plant tree seedlings and build walls as protection against erosion.
The villagers plant tree seedlings and build walls as protection against erosion. © Desmarowitz
Homemade cow's milk cheese.
Homemade cow's milk cheese. © Desmarowitz
Selling cheese is a new source of income for the smallfarmers in Ayacucho.
Selling cheese is a new source of income for the smallfarmers in Ayacucho. © Desmarowitz
Farmers are heading to their fields and plant new seedlings.
Farmers are heading to their fields and plant new seedlings. © Desmarowitz
Food now contains more vitamins and protein, and children enjoy a healthier childhood.
Food now contains more vitamins and protein, and children enjoy a healthier childhood. © Weller

High in the Peruvian Andes, at an elevation of 3,500 metres, eight settlements are located within a radius of 30 kilometres. They combine to form the Millennium Village Ayacucho near the city by the same name in the North of Peru. 

For thousands of years, the farmers have successfully grown potatoes and bred alpacas at the high altitudes. All this changed 20 years ago: The mountains are dominated by a brutal civil war between the Maoist guerilla organisation "Shining Path" and the Peruvian military. The population was caught between the two fronts, and thousands died or fled. Their fields and pastures lay fallow and desolate. 

Most of the owners have now returned. They have replanted and are managing their fields. But it will be a long time until the people in Ayacucho will be able to live off their harvests or generate incomes.

Clever water management

Together with Welthungerhilfe and its partner organisation Asociación Bartolomé Aripaylla (ABA), the families in Ayacucho are working hard to secure a better future. For example, they are improving soil quality and are planting more varieties of vegetables and grains. 

Water management plays a central role in this context: Above the settlements, the farmers have built 70 water retention basins made of natural materials, with the water slowly seeping into lower-lying areas, where it re-emerges as spring water. Now the small farmers can irrigate their fields and pastures, set up vegetable gardens, keep dairy animals and produce cheese. Food now contains more vitamins and protein, and children enjoy a healthier childhood.

Higher yields with organic fertiliser

Farmers achieve higher yields with organic fertiliser. They form associations to market their cheese, garlic or lettuce. There is a lot of demand for high-quality products in the large cities of the country.

In the year 2000, 189 countries came together to agree on eight objectives as part of the "Millennium Declaration", with the goal of achieving more global justice. Welthungerhilfe also addressed this challenge by starting the Millennium Villages initiative in 2006. It gives the local population a voice and makes progress measurable. The principle of "help towards self-help" takes centre stage in this regard: village communities such as Ayacucho identify their problems, develop solutions and implement them. The aid measures are financially supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.