Sunday, September 15, 2013

Celebrating the Work of CARE Perú in Huancane Province

Uros women from San Martín (Photo: Nancy Bauer)
(Editor's Note: The author, an anti-poverty advocate from Roswell, Ga., is the founder of the Mango Tree Foundation. She recently returned from Peru, where she met with representatives from CARE Perú.  Her delegation viewed  five projects: two focused on livestock, one on Citizen Health Monitors, one  on maternal health and one on childhood malnutrition, prenatal care and early childhood education. Here is a piece that she wrote for CARE and shared with us for this blog).

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.

Over the last five months, the time that CARE Perú has been involved, growers have reduced the time to increase weight and get bulls to market from a staggering and very costly 1-2 years to 3 months! In the future, the growers will be able to take bulls to market 4 times a year!

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)
Two more highlights from this project visit: Amy and I got to help mix the feed that the women prepare for the cows including both the vitamin dense mix and the mix of local grains. The women knew exactly how much of each grain went into the mix and did it from memory. We got dirty but it was so awesome! And, the parade of bulls was a fabulous experience. We got to see these impressive bulls up close and personal! The community was so proud of these animals. They have every right to be.

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.

In 2010 this community lost every thing in flooding. I had a chance to measure the water level during the flood against my height (5’4” on a tall day) and it came up to the top of my hip. The shed we were sitting in was critical for their cattle during the rainy season to prevent them having to stand in 1-1/2 to 2 feet of mud. Several of the participants emphasized the need for more shed structures to protect cattle. Some of the bulls were tethered close by and they were amazing animals. We got to hear from several participants on how CARE’s work has benefitted them and we heard many of the same stories we had heard from our first visit: Increased profit, more information on proper feeding to increase weight, and cooperative/community building were all key topics.

One of the highlights of this visit was having an opportunity to hear Dina talk about the difference in her life because of her ability to be part of this project. Her partner was away most of the time working in the surrounding cities so she had the primary responsibility to care for their livestock and her son. She rose at 4:30 every morning to do chores then took her son to school on her bike – 8 kms each way.

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.

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