By Paula Bayarte
Andahuaylas, Peru, Jun 29 (EFE).- Silvia Moran knows which of her hundreds of trees produce the largest avocados and can differentiate without hesitation among nearly identical varieties.
And now, thanks to a mobile app that connects farmers with their end consumers, those large, single-seeded berries she grows under a blazing sun in a high-Andean community are making their way to tables in Peruvian cities without hardly any intermediaries.
“This avocado you see is totally organic. It has no chemicals, we don’t use any chemical products. To this day we still use livestock manure” as fertilizer, Moran showed Efe during a tour of her avocado trees near Huayana, a rural community in the southern Peruvian province of Andahuaylas.
Using a colorful Andean blanket, or lliclla, she carries a large number of avocados on her back – fruit of the farm work she and her husband have carried out for the past nine years.
“We plant at different times to have small harvests several times a year,” she explained while climbing a hill with surprising agility despite using traditional shoes worn by women in that region.
She told Efe that she and her husband happily sold their avocados at fairs prior to the pandemic, though adding that the strict Covid-19 stay-at-home measures and drastic drop in their income forced to them to seek out a new solution – one that also has proved to be financially advantageous.
A mobile app known as “Kusikuy” (“joy” in Quechua) now links Moran’s avocados with consumers across Peru looking to consume quality organic products while also supporting local farmers.
With help from the Peruvian Trust Fund for National Parks and Protected Areas’ (Profonanpe’s) agrobiodiversity project and the Peruvian Association of Consumers and Users, Moran offers a variety of native products under the Agrobio brand.
Quinoa, wheat, a wide variety of corn and potatoes, honey and high-elevation tuber crops such as oca and mashua, which have medicinal properties, are all available through the app.
Thanks to her additional income, Moran and her husband can now send money to their 19-year-old son who is studying engineering in Lima.
The day before the interview, this female farmer carried 100 kilos (220 pounds) of Fuerte avocados, one of the three varieties she cultivates, to a tambo (a facility used in the time of the Inca Empire for administrative and military purposes) located in Pampapuquio.
She and her husband arrived at the doors of that modest building that also serves as a place for meetings and activities for children. There, they waited in line with other farmers who had arrived straight from their chacras (“cultivated fields” in Quechua) with their products.
“They’re products that they themselves harvest in their chacras and grow organically. First, they ensure the safety of their food and later sell it to improve their quality of life and that of their communities,” the project’s commercial adviser, Rosemary Yabar, told Efe after showing the farmers how to pack their products.
At the tambo, they weigh their wheat, honey or corn and test that their products are in good condition. Later, they place the products in paper bags, stick on a label and place them in boxes that will be shipped out to different Peruvian cities.
Through this simple process, the supply chain is reduced to a minimum and communities feel motivated to sell their products for a healthy profit. Previously, the food they had grown was for their own consumption or to barter with nearby localities.
“With this project, a lot of our brothers and sisters are starting to value these products much more. Because before they wouldn’t give you the value you needed,” Yabar said, noting that the interest from city dwellers in what these rural farmers produce is encouraging them to increase their output and incomes.
Moran’s avocados, along with native potatoes and quinoa from other peasant communities, arrive on the 15th or 30th of every month at consumers’ homes.
“When we consume a product, we also have to think a lot about who benefits,” Leah Sacin, one of the app’s users, said at her home in the Lima district of Magdalena.
“And Kusikuy gives the value to those who need to have it, in this case the ones who harvest all of these wonderful products that we have in Peru.”