Llama Fest 2012

While Ana and Christie explored the salt flats in traditional quinoa growing territory, I, Lindsay, headed to Northeast Oruro this weekend to a small community called Curahuara de Carangas. Curahuara is a small town the traditional llama-farming region and I was lucky enough to visit for the community’s 19th annual llama festival! Much like a state fair in the U.S., this was an event in which llama farmers from all over the region brought their llamas (and some alpacas) in to sell and participate in various contests.  There was a lot of live traditional music, food (I ate llama meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner), handicrafts; and of course, an abundance of llamas.

Learning how to “manage” alpacas

Kids playing traditional music “Sikuris”

Cooking llama meat in the earth, traditional dish called “watia”

Male llamas for sale

In the judging ring, this llama won first place for Class A (1 year old) fiber llamas (as opposed to those raised for meat)

I got to put a ribbon on the second place llama!

This was one set of winners of about 15 groups of llamas judged throughout the weekend

While there I had the chance to visit with several llama farmers and other individuals who work for VALE (acronym for Vicuñas, Alpacas, Llamas & Ecotourism), the state’s rural development program that works with camelid producers. I was surprised to learn that in that particular region of Bolivia, llama manure is extremely under utilized. Every one of the farmers I spoke to said that they only use a small fraction of their manure, mostly to fertilizer their potato fields, and the rest is actually a nuisance. Many were interested in our idea of implementing a low-tech compost system on their farms if they could make money from it. While this news was promising, it still leaves us with the big question of cost: will it be cost effective to connect this supply of manure with quinoa farmers living over 500 km (300 miles) away? The high demand for fertilizer gives us hope, but we will be continuing to work on answering this question.

The town of Curahuara de Carangas near sunset

On top of a large hill in the town you can see Sajama, the tallest mountain in Bolivia (21,463ft)

Overall, it was a beautiful and culturally rich weekend!

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About Siembra Orgánica

This is a blog about the venture launch of an organic fertilizer business to help organic quinoa farmers in Bolivia created by three Colorado State University MBA Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise students. We will post updates on our travels and research in Bolivia this summer and our adventures in bringing this idea into reality. We are passionate about helping rural Bolivian organic farmers and believe that helping provide essential agricultural inputs will change their lives for the better.
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