Most known for its mystical traditions, dramatic deserts, jungles, and iridescent mountains that rise above 5,000 meters, Jujuy is also one of Argentina’s poorest provinces.
Every year, local farmers prepare festive dishes and bury them in fields as offerings to Pachamama, the Andean Mother Earth Goddess, hoping that she will reward them with better harvests and fertile soils.
Yet many indigenous people living in the region struggle to feed their families, and climate change, frequent droughts and extreme poverty are forcing many to emigrate.
And indeed, despite impressive progress in the fight against extreme poverty globally, the world still struggles to feed its growing population and hunger is once again on the rise, especially in rural communities.
In May 2017, LDC and the Louis Dreyfus Foundation launched a project to improve the livelihoods of 339 farmers and their families in 12 communities of Jujuy province, through the installation of innovative water collection systems and training to use these, as well as a system of micro-credit.
Nearly all the farmers were indigenous peoples with limited access to water and low incomes, producing – but struggling to trade – Andean potatoes, broad beans, corn, tubers and quinoa.
Run from May 2017 to February 2019, the project aimed to improve farmer incomes through facilitated access to water, boosting productivity, and through support in trading their produce, including with tourists.
By the end of the project, almost 1438 people had directly benefited from its actions, including the families of 117 livestock farmers and 222 others who received small loans.
Micro-credit grants created opportunities in the agro-ecological, craft and tourism sectors, especially for women. The project distributed 95 micro-credits in the Puna region, supporting llama fiber producers in 6 communities and 185 micro-credits in the Quebrada region, mainly for smallholder farmers. After loans were repaid (all of them except in 3 cases, where an extension was requested), the funds were lent to other farmers.
The project also facilitated access to water, through collection and irrigation systems using small tanks and pipes. In turn, this helped increase agricultural yields – for human and animal consumption alike – making households more self-sufficient and increasing their incomes. 42 new and upgraded water installations were implemented as a result of the project.
“Poverty is a complex phenomenon and cannot always be attributed to a single factor,” says Luis Zubizarreta, Head of Corporate Affairs for South & West Latin America at LDC. “In this case, we worked with local communities to understand their needs and then designed the project accordingly.”
By improving access to water through training and new equipment, the project supported more sustainable agriculture for both subsistence crops and livestock, such as llamas, thus also boosting trade in llama wool.
Small loans also helped farmers to increase their production and to reinforce their links with local tourism.
“With common projects such as this one, both the Foundation and LDC demonstrate their shared commitment to supporting remote, rural communities around the world,” says Zubizarreta. “We are committed to building a sustainable future, and we are proud to have contributed to this in the Jujuy region.”