Well we are now officially done with day 1 working in Bolivia. Overall it was a successful day filled with good and interesting information. We are going to try to post our key findings each day to let you know what we are learning! Today, we spent quite a bit of time with Javier Delgado, the director of the MIS Llamas Project by PCI Bolivia (Project Concern International), a large NGO that has worked in Bolivia for 30 years. MIS Llamas is an acronym for Manejo Intergral Sostenible or Integrated Sustainable Management of Llamas. The 8 year-old development project was implemented to increase the productivity and effectiveness of how llamas are managed in the Altiplano region. Some of the main problems that existed previously were high rates of llama mortality due to the harsh climate, cold weather and predators such as condors. The project also focused on helping llama farmers improve nutrition and the overall health of their animals. Since the program’s implementation they have seen a 64% reduction in the mortality rate of young llamas, a 34% increase in the production of female llamas milk and 100,000 llamas under more sanitary conditions.
Javier also explained that their work was aimed at helping small producers take advantage the four value chains that PCI has helped establish for the llamas:
- Fibers – Llama fiber is extremely warm, breathable and makes very high quality clothing.
- Meat – Llama meat is lower in choleseterol than other red meats and is now being served in some school lunch programs in the Altiplano region. It is also made into sausages, jerky and much more.
- Leather – Llama leather has not been used traditionally but has been found to be a great, flexible material to work with and is now used to make shoes, wallets, purses etc..
The fourth and final value chain of llamas is manure and while a few pilot programs have been implemented by PCI, this is where our work comes in. We are hoping to better develop this value chain and PCI has shown much appreciation for our willingness to help them do so.
We’re excited about the adventure ahead and thank you for keeping up with our progress!