|Uros women from San Martín (Photo: Nancy Bauer)|
By Nancy Bauer
We arrived at today’s first project visit in Huancane Province, Peru, to a reception befitting high-level celebrities. Men, women and children, village leaders and community representatives were standing in two lines that created a pathway for us to walk down. As we walked down the lines, I tried to make sure I stopped and personally greeted everyone there. The weather was questionable with on and off rain and low temperatures. But, this was clearly a celebration – a celebration of success, a celebration of life and family and celebration of what the future might bring.
We were escorted to white plastic chairs, asked to sit and quickly surrounded by all the beneficiaries in attendance. The most important guests, however, remained tethered in the large wide-open area surrounding us. They were the bulls! Amazing bulls - nice sized, healthy looking bulls. Bulls that soon would be headed to the market to be sold for beef, leather and offal.
CARE Perú has several different focuses with this particular project. One is to provide technical training to growers teaching them how to maximize their feed to include a vitamin heavy diet coupled with natural local grains to help bulls gain weight faster.
Additionally, CARE Perú has offered instruction on worming and eliminating other internal and external parasites. All key factors in growing healthy bulls. The growers have also been taught how to identify the bulls that produce the best meat by learning key physical characteristics – such as chest size, neck size, and slope of the bull’s neck. This kind of information transfer is critical to future success.
CARE Perú has also focused on human capacity development in this project. Since this area is very rural and saturated with small-scale subsistence based growers and producers, it was very difficult for individuals to get their cattle to market without a middleman. CARE Perú has emphasized an organizational structure focused on cooperative engagement. Now, many small cattle growers join together to share the costs of transporting their bulls to markets, which decreases the costs to the individuals.
Now, because of the strength of their cooperative, more small-scale growers are able to join in the process of selling their bulls. Being able to take their bulls to market has also eliminated the need for a middleman to handle the transactions. In general, a transaction now benefits the individual growers by approximately NS $1000 instead of the NS $400 they had been receiving. Incidentally, bulls weighing less than 500 KG (about 1100 pounds) are taken to Arequipa, Peru, a distance of about 60 miles. Bulls weighing over 500 KG are taken to Lima, a distance of about 500 miles but a drive that takes about 10 hours!
|Taraco woman wears beautiful jacket (Nancy Bauer)|
We heard from about 10 of the participants in the program including women and men. I was able to ask some questions (cost of bulls, age of bulls when they were purchased, how they knew which bulls would bring good prices and whether or not they were doing any breeding of their own stock) but the weather got worse and since we were outside we disbursed.
Our next visit was to a project in the village of Taraco, Peru, still in Huancane Province. This project was basically a duplicate of the earlier project we visited today. There we had the opportunity to talk with more women and men raising cattle to sell for beef. Their project was a little different because they also had cows used for milk and cheese. Right now, the milk and cheese are kept within the communities for supplemental food. This community also has pigs and chickens. Since the rain had increased we were sitting in a shed with a roof over it.
We had a short time to ask questions and to visit with the women and men. Intelligent men and women who are looking for a better life. Simple ideas can make such a huge difference. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see this work first hand.