Mountain areas

The Andes, the largest mountain range  in America and the world, runs through Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, and has slopes in different countries, resulting in eastern, central and western ridges.

In Peru and Bolivia, there are two different ecological zones: the valley area, between 2500 and 3800 meters, called "Queshua" in the native language, and the upper, above 3800 m, called "Puna". The central Andes in Peru has a great biological diversity - 18 agro-ecological zones, which host 84 of the 103 life zones on the planet.

The main problem faced by high mountain ecosystems is rural poverty. In Peru, 73% of the rural population of the mountain, about four million people, live in poverty. In the case of Bolivia, the figure is expected to reach two million people, ie 80% of the rural population.

The main causes unresolved rural poverty are:

  1. Low level of competitiveness and profitability by low agricultural productivity of crops and livestock due to inadequate levels of technological innovation;
  2. Limited access to basic services and productive smallholder agriculture due to insufficient levels of basic education and formal technique with high illiteracy rates, as well as lack of technical assistance, training and linkage to markets;
  3. Unsustainable use of natural resources due to limited resources and degraded natural (water sources, agricultural land, grasslands, IV) Weak institutional development in the agricultural sector, which with other causes, such as lack of communication rural areas to cities and markets, produces high transaction costs for training and rural enterprise development and adoption of new technologies.

This set of cases involving low levels of income and decent employment, high rates of malnutrition among children, temporary or permanent migration of young and male heads of households to large coastal cities, and the colonization of rainforest areas in very precarious conditions, generating a box capitalization of livelihoods of rural people with natural resource degradation and food insecurity.

Latin America has been marked in the past 20 years by global trends of liberalization and globalization of markets (including agriculture). It also stands out for the decentralization of public administration at local levels, by a growing concern for the environment and a reduction in the share of agriculture in international trade.

Public institutions responsible for research and extension services as well as financial, marketing and other support tools, were weakened in most countries.

In Peru, although in the last decade the agricultural sector as a whole has grown sustainably due to the dynamism of the economy and trade liberalization, the problems in rural and agro level persist for peasants and family farmers.

Furthermore, since 2005 there is a change in the development model in Bolivia. It promotes the establishment of a new productive, on issues such as access of small farmers to land, the development of organic agriculture and the strengthening of food sovereignty, which makes the logic of productivity and the generation of foreign exchange principle of "living well". As a result, in recent years, Bolivia also has good macroeconomic situation, however, still does not feel at the micro level, in the lives of most rural people particularly.

Given this situation, Practical Action aims to develop local innovation systems and agricultural extension. For this it is necessary to have a decisive participation of organized producers point to the sustainability of their livelihoods, food security and competitiveness in the market, in a context of climate variability and food insecurity. This means:

  • Raising the technological, organizational and management of small farmers and peasants to greater participation and equity market systems and supply chains, with better handling and management of natural resources, on the other hand, improve capacities of local governments and other actors to take on local systems of innovation and extension.
  • Guide the development of sustainable production of food safety in areas of less productive potential and to the development of the domestic market in areas with the greatest potential and export (niche organic products) or added value.
  • Develop a high level of interaction at the territorial, synergies and complementary capabilities, building common visions of smallholder agriculture development and influencing policy decisions across platforms or institutional networks, especially on the basis of innovation systems and extension.

The main contribution from the Mountain Ecosystems Subprogram is the promotion of innovation systems and rural extension from an integrated approach that combines four components:

  • changes in market systems,
  • the development of technologies and models of sustainable management of natural resources and production,
  • training of technical and certified agribusiness community level and
  • the development of cooperation networks and platforms that promote local and regional innovation policies in favor of small producers.


The project Strengthening the milk production chain to increase the income of farm families in San Silvestre de Cochan, seeks to contribute to improving the living conditions of the rural farmers in 15 communities in the San Silvestre district of Cochan in Cajamarca. It includes the training of promoters and their access to technical assistance services, improving access to water for irrigation technology and the promotion of opportunities for consultation between government agencies, enterprises and rural population, with a view to promoting and strengthening the milk production chain. Within less than a year since the start of the project achieved the following results:

  • 240 farmers in six villages (Cochan Low, Quilupay, lily, Quengo, Santa Aurelia and El Castillo) in the district of Cochan installed and upgraded approximately 100 acres of rye grass and white clover ecotype cajamarquino huia.
  • 27 promoters were trained about food, livestock health, business management, "farmer to farmer" technical assistance, to solve the problems facing the cattle in 15 communities Cochan district, which has 3 livestock service centers installed.
  • 240 farmers were trained in cultivated pastures (planting, soil preparation, liming, soil testing, fertilization, distribution and seed coat) on the plots of the 6 villages.

The project Rural business opportunities in the province of Canchis (known as "Golondrinas Project"), seeks to strengthen the development of sustainable rural businesses Andean grains and cereals, contributing to the increase in the level of income and food security poor families in twelve communities Maranganí District (Canchis Cusco), achieving the following results:

  • 40% increase in yields of organic grain producer organizations in twelve communities Maranganí district through best practices and seed sharing scheme.
  • Formation of the association "Las Golondrinas Ccaycco" to provide and gather grains and cereals for sale to wholesalers and other partner institutions such as VDL for Maranganí district, which provides more than 7 tons per month of Lactated barley flakes.
  • Implementation of good agricultural practices in 100 plots, as the choice of land, crop rotation, cultural controls (irrigation, hilling, weeding, harvesting and post-harvest) and development of biol, lime sulphur and biocides.
  • About 200 technical assistance have been served by kamayoq in smallholder plots beans, corn, barley, wheat and quinoa.

From the project Organization of a local system of innovation and extension for sustainable development of the activity in the macro-region Apurimac-Ayacucho (known as "Project Paqocha"), seeks to contribute to greater food security in families farmers who depend on raising alpacas in the towns of Antabamba and Aymaraes (Apurimac) and Lucanas and Parinacochas (Ayacucho). With a year of the project has implemented the following results to date:

  • 80 kamayoq in Apurimac and Ayacucho have been trained in raising alpacas for the provision of technical assistance to small alpaca producers.
  • 6 Local Economic Development Offices are developing a proposal that incorporates the alpaca theme in their working agenda.
  • 115 alpacas with favourable characteristics were selected for reproduction, providing a nucleus of 25 to begin the breeding process.
  • About 300 alpacas received prompt medical care following respiratory infection as a result of snowfall.
  • 4 mating modules have been built and will serve to make the breeding season in the breeding season. The remaining 12 completed its construction in the coming months.
  • 148 families received assistance alpaqueras, turning a 7432 health treatment to adults and young alpacas.
  • 98 alpaca families plowed 8.5 hectares of land for pasture as ryegras, white clover and forage oats. They are also arranging their pens to protect these crops.
  • 59 families signed up to each plant 20 seedlings in their respective properties.


With the project Strengthening sustainable livelihoods of rural families Colquencha (known as "Hillside Colquencha"), Practical Action seeks to increase incomes of 800 rural families, in order to significantly improve their productivity levels, and access to markets and utilities, with the following results:

  • 46 promoters (27 men and 19 women) in 5 cantons of the municipality were trained in livestock management and are qualified to provide technical assistance services.
  • 17 farm families have planted 2.6 hectares of alfalfa and 1.25 hectares of barley, obtaining an average yield of 6235 kg / ha in alfalfa and 7834 kg / ha in barley.
  • 263 families implemented gardens in an area of 3.98 hectares which helped improve the diet.

Snow storms spark emergency response in Peru

Practical Action worked with other agencies in an emergency response following the massive snow storms that devastated the lives of the poor farmers we work with in Peru in 2013.

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Kamayoq potato farmers in action

A case study from the highlands of Sicuani, Cusco, showing the importance of Kamayoqs to potato farming.

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Leaders can be any age

Case study about the experience of a young Kamayoq girl who raises alpacas in Cusco, Peru.

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