It’s Team Peru season! If you’re a regular follower of AASD you’re most likely a member of a past Team Peru crew (or two) or you’ve heard all about it. Team Peru is a group of graduate students from the Monterey Institute of International Studies (this year we also have one Middlebury fellow) who spend a summer immersed in life in Peru working with the AASD. We’re three weeks deep into the summer session with Team Peru and things are getting interesting.
This summer Team Peru is exploring options for connecting small, local producers with markets. These producers are either already, or willing to begin, producing ecologically if there is a way, an outlet, for ecologically produced goods. These small producers must have an incentive to continue producing ecologically as it often means more time spent working with their land to ensure it is healthy and in tune with natural processes.
Ecological production focuses on using resources at hand but also working within the natural cycles and processes of nature. This takes time and care; thus, many producers believe their products deserve a higher value. Many see no value in selling their produce in the local markets for the same price as agrochemical producers sell their goods. Some farmers have even taken extra time to gain a regional ecological certification that is recognized nationally throughout Peru. But what value does such a certificate have if the majority of current buyers are not seeking such a product?
While this certificate is a huge step forward, we still see the potential to do more with this proof of ecological production. There is an opportunity to use the certificate as a point of organization and a launch pad for reaching markets that place a higher value on such goods. This project is about connecting ecological farmers with a market that values the quality of a chemical free good for a range of reasons from human to ecological health to just the desire to support local, small-scale farmers working to produce safe and healthy vegetables.
We’re in the thick of information gathering as you can see from these photos of a recent interview with Placido, a small ecological/organic farmer in Calca. He is explaining why he sees value in producing organically and why he seeks a better market where he can sell his goods at a higher price. He also explained a bit about what he believes are the main challenges holding others from joining the movement.Very interesting! Check back in for updates and findings about this project soon. Team Peru will be sharing insights from interviews and personal reflections throughout their exploration this summer.
Want to learn more about Team Peru? Read about past experiences on the Team Peru blog.