Archives for 2015

Day 2 – How I got here in the first place: Fulbright research

Day 2 – How I got here in the first place: Fulbright research

So how did I get into this project in the first place?  Here is my Fulbright research proposal.  I will have three years to travel from the US to Bolivia in 3-month intervals to study the effect of quinoa production on the Andean woman.

Oh, and who am I?  I’m social scientist and business developer specializing in economics and sustainable development.  For the last 10 years I’ve also been a university professor.  I’ve lived and worked in Bolivia for the past 18 years.  My two children are half Bolivian and though their  Bolivian grandma grows quinoa for the family, she is not a commercial prducer.  I have not been in the quinoa growing region I’ll be studying in over 10 years.  People tell me it has changed a lot!

Gender and Sustainable Development in Bolivia.

A comparative study of the impact of Fair Trade, organic certification and conventional production on the well-being of women quinoa farmers and their families.

Summary of Project Statement

Conducting a comparative study of Bolivia’s Fair Trade, organic and agrochemical quinoa production creates a deeper understanding of the effects that different modes of production have on family, sustainable development and well-being. Bolivia provides 45% of the world supply of quinoa with exports growing from 1,500 tonnes in 1999 to 29,500 tonnes in 2013, the International Year of Quinoa, making it the world’s second largest quinoa producer (FAO, 2013). I am interested in this Fulbright award and teaming with Bolivian academics and producers because as an American sustainability scholar and published author, I am ideally suited to conduct this study. This study contributes to my understanding of techniques and strategies for sustainable development, improves my teaching and will be published in my next book.

Day 1 – Following the Quinoa Trail!

Day 1 – Following the Quinoa Trail!

Quinoa sack from the Brattleboro Food Co-op.

Quinoa sack from the Brattleboro Food Co-op.

Here I am at the Brattleboro Food Coop – our local food coop which has been selling organic Bolivian quinoa in bulk and as a packaged good for over 10 years.  And here is a sack of organic quinoa from Bolivia that in May 2015 was poured into a bin for bulk sales to consumers (retail).

Starting July 1st, I will travel to Bolivia with the empty quinoa sack from the Brattleboro Food Co-op, looking to find the producers who filled it back in November 2014 and trace the value chain of this ancient grain.  How did it get here, by whom, at what cost?  Where are the women in this and how are they effected as world demand and value of this native grain grows?  And what is the future for Bolivia – the native home of hand harvested, small scale quinoa production? Come join me on this 70 day journey!

This is me in 2010, when I was studying the effect of Fair Trade knitting and weaving on Bolivian women for my doctoral thesis.  The results of this study and another one in 2012 that looked at the effect of Fair Trade coffee growing on Bolivian women is found in my latest book.

Me and the UMA (union mujer andina) weavers, El Alto, Bolivia, 2010

Me and the UMA (union mujer andina) weavers, El Alto, Bolivia, 2010