While I had plans to travel back to La Paz today, I ended up staying another night in Oruro because I was put in contact with another valuable person with whom I as able to meet this afternoon. I met with Roberto Carlos Quispe from the organization, Fundación Agricola Andes, a German NGO working to implement ecologically sound quinoa production practices. He did not present entirely new information; he reinforced the importance of planned growth of quinoa production and holistic solutions to the problems caused by quinoa cultivation. However, one thing that was of particular interest is that he is managing 14 projects in northern Oruro in which communities are manufacturing their own liquid organic fertilizers out of cow manure, alfalfa, molasses and other local ingredients. They have even started bottling the products and putting their own brand labels! These operations are very small and limited to a community scale, but are a great example of how others have also recognized the demand for organic inputs and developed a market-based solution.
I then spent some time visiting with Yeris Peric, Andean Naturals agronomist to share what Siembra Organica has learned in the past few weeks. He was very enthusiastic about our progress and excited to see our final business plan. One of the most important takeaways from the meeting was that Peric feels it is important to keep in mind the need for solid fertilizers in the traditional quinoa regions. He says that there are plenty of organic liquid fertilizers on the market, but the very fragile soil of the Altiplano is best served when a solid input is included as part of a complete farm management solution.
On the political front, it seems like the highway is all clear and we should have no problems traveling back to La Paz tomorrow. Interestingly, the main plaza of La Paz was filled with miners today holding banners and creating awareness for their cause. It seemed peaceful to me, but of course, I also kept a safe distance!