The Kamayoq extensionists in Peru

In the Cuzco region of Peru, Practical Action has trained community based extensionists, known locally as Kamayoq, since 1997 to support fellow farmers and their communities to fill the gap in public extension services. Initially training was given to farmers in highland areas where some of the most vulnerable and poorest people live. It was in these areas where communities were entirely dependent on alpacas and potatoes. Trainee farmers were selected from these communities and trained in pest and disease prevention, animal health and breeding practices and irrigation. The training lasts for 8 months and so far over 140 Kamayoq have been trained, 20% of which are women.

Practical Action has also helped these community based extension workers to form a ‘Kamayoq Association’ to represent and support members on an on-going basis. Guidance in organisational planning and obtaining resources, as well as help in building their own offices has also been provided. The organisation has been highly successful in building linkages with a range of public and private institutions for members to provide technical assistance, and accessing new courses to advance their specialization.

Communities in the highlands are now more resilient in times of frost which have been getting more and more severe in recent years. This has left them vulnerable to potato diseases which destroys their crops and leaves their livelihoods vulnerable. With the help of trained Kamayoq, farmers have been able to change their techniques ensuring a better fertiliser is used, which can be made at home by farmers consisting of cow dung, eggshells and other locally available materials. With the better fertiliser farmers are able to grow to grow a variety of potatoes that can be grow at a high altitude and are more resistant to disease and cold climates. Farmers are also trained in how to store these potatoes and are made aware of the need for soil regeneration which in turn makes the next year’s crop even more productive.

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