by John Rivera

Here at LWR headquarters in Baltimore, we occasionally get a visit from our partner staff from the field and when they do very often we’ll have a “brownbag” information session during lunchtime. For those of us who work mostly out of our Baltimore offices this is a real treat and a chance to connect our daily work to the impact LWR is making around the world.

Recently Hubert (Richard) Aparco, an agronomist working with our projects in Peru, stopped by for a visit. He works with our partner organization, the Center for Integrated Community Development (CEDINCO), which works in the Andean highlands to improve the health and nutrition of farm families by increasing the production and productivity of native potato varieties.

It is obvious from listening to Richard that he loves his work. He has a bright smile as he recounts his efforts to help farm families, traveling around the community in the rugged, mountainous region on his motorcycle.

The work has been difficult, and not without obstacles. For example, he recounted his frustration at not being able to convince the government-run health clinics that parasites were a real problem in the community. Health officials estimated only 1 or 2 percent of the community suffered from water-borne illnesses and parasites. By conducting his own testing, going from house to house to collect stool test samples, Richard was able to demonstrate that 98 percent of the people in the community were infected with parasites, spurring the government to provide treatment.

A farmer participating in LWR’s project shows off his impressive variety of native potatoes.
Farmer Hernando Calanas Ayoque shows off an impressive variety of native potatoes at a local potato festival organized by LWR partner CEDINCO in Castrovirreyna (Photo Credit: Hubert Aparco)

But the good news he brought is that the impact of the project has been dramatic. The project is focusing on improving food security and nutrition for 180 farmers of 150 children under age five in eight communities in the Andean highlands province of Castrovirreyna. So far, farmers have seen a fourfold increase potato production per acre as the result of improvements in seed selection, fertilization and other agricultural techniques, going from harvesting 1 ton per acre to 4 tons per acre.

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