Adventures in Bolivia – Day 3 – Visits with Save the Children

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The holiday season is a big part of everywhere we go in Bolivia.

Today brought new adventures to help our group understand Bolivia’s need and methods of agriculture. We left the hotel bright and early this morning to travel to Santa Rosa, a municipality with 20,000 people scattered throughout many townships. In Santa Rosa we spoke with the mayor, who gave us information about the Save the Children’s projects within the area. Save the Children works with smaller communities within Santa Rosa on projects that take the entire value chain into consideration, work with farmers and families to improve their production processes and improve agriculture in the region.

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The Bolivian farmers and Save the Children represtentatives share about their honey production project.

After leaving the city square of Santa Rosa, we drove an additional hour to a small township that was selected to produce honey. Currently the people have 15 hives, which each produce 30kg of honey per year. They consume the honey themselves, especially encouraging the children to consume it for its medicinal properties and nutritional value. In the future, they hope to sell the honey at local markets to bring profit to the people. Save the Children works in four stages with the community including the collection of the bees, maintaining the hives, collecting and processing the honey and finding markets where the honey can be sold. This ensures the project is sustainable once Save the Children leaves the township.

Another hour drive took us to a small township which grows ginger and palillo, a root crop similar to ginger used in food products and as a coloring agent. Palillo is a product that the community has produced for seven years, but just started the process to market and sell. They currently sell it sliced and dried, which they do entirely by hand. With market demands, they are working with Save the Children to get technology that will help them grind the product and sell it as a powder for twice the amount of money. Although simplistic, this group used ginger as a cover crop with corn, as they work well together and are sustainable.

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Bolivian farmers show off their field of palillo.

All of the people we encountered today were very hospital. They are humble people who don’t have much, many living under thatched roofs with outhouses and the most basic necessities, but they have full hearts. They shared their knowledge, delicious food and fellowship with our group and were very excited about the work that we were doing. The groups repeatedly thanked us for our service and asked us to share our knowledge of their sustainable agricultural practices with people back in the USA. Although they are simple in their methods, they are working towards methods that will enhance their profitability and be sustainable in the future.

Kate Griswold
University of Wisconsin – Madison

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