Archives for August 15, 2018

Day 35: La presentacion: After the Boom

Day 35: La presentacion: After the Boom

All are invited to my presentation with Catholic University tomorrow, Thursday, August 16 at 10am in La Paz, Bolivia.  I will be presenting the data from the past three years of studies looking at market trends, production yields, costs, net-earnings, and the social-economic standing of quinoa growers from 2015 – 2018; after the quinoa boom where market prices soared and quinoa producers became Bolivia’s new rich, for a day.

Now things have quieted down though quinoa is still a strong economic asset for the country with 32,000 tonnes exported in 2017 valued at $74 million.  Quinoa made it to the “top 10” list of regional economic products for the Department of Oruro too – a place more known for its mineral production than agriculture.

But the study goes beyond the typical economic indicators and asks, “What is the future of the Bolivian woman quinoa producer?”  Here in Bolivia the new development paradigm is “buen vivir” – living well.  The idea is that with sufficient economic opportunity, resources and infrastructure people can live as well, if not better, in the countryside than the cities.  Ideally they would have access to the same quality of education and health services up to the university level, as they enjoy in the cities, with the added benefit of a strong community, cultural traditions and a cleaner environment.  For most, especially the younger generation of quinoa growers, age 18 and under who are now growing up in the cities and visiting the countryside for planting, harvesting and festivals – the countryside is a place of boredom and punishment.  They would rather be home in the city playing video games than exploring the vast, dusty plains of “grandma’s community.”

So the study – rooted in sustainability, looks at the economic, cultural, environmental and social aspects of women’s lived now – after the boom; after Peru has overtaken the world quinoa market and has driven down prices with higher yield production methods and different, faster growing, quinoa varieties; after the global market analysts and data collectors have left Bolivia; after the regional agricultural development programs have ended; after the houses have been rebuilt and closed up.

We examine the future for Bolivia’s quinoa farmers which lies rooted in a just price, 25% higher than today’s market price.  A price that will value the unique properties of the Bolivian Royal Quinoa – which cannot be produced anywhere else in the world.  The large, creamy seed which is packed full of complex proteins, vitamins and minerals, omega3s and others.  The distinct varieties which add amazing texture and deep flavor notes to everyday cooking – and are unknown outside of the rural kitchen.  The deep cultural traditions, legends, hand labor, and love that go into the slow production of the world’s finest quinoa.

The women leaders of the multi-million dollar export cooperatives will be present at this presentation as will women leaders who are working to transform the countryside into one of regional, indigenous, autonomous governance – where the people themselves decide their development, future and traditions.  I hope you can make it to the presentation.  If not, no worries, the data, stories analysis and insights will be published in a series of academic papers over the next year.  A book will be written and there are plans for a movie to be made as well.

This is not the end of the quinoa journey – just the beginning.  Thank you for coming this far with me.  My contact info is:  WhatsApp 1-802-579-3386.  Please keep in touch.