mardi, mai 03, 2005

Mac Llama for Bolivians?


It seems that poverty does not only deprive us of material assets, but also makes us some form of magic or extra-terrestrial alien creatures, even to those who claim to want to assist us in our needs. So there come the very original ideas to help those who are incapacitated to help themselves.

The IFAD had launched a USD 11.30 million social project to be implemented among Camelid Producers in the Andean High Plateau, whose aim was to bring about significant increases in the income levels of herders, local artisans and small entrepreneurs. It was supposed reach a total of 15,000 families, who are among the poorest segments of the population in Bolivia. Direct project beneficiaries in theory comprised some 12,950 peasant families; the remaining 2,050 families should receive technical assistance and credit for commercial/processing activities. The natural characteristics of the Bolivian highlands were serious limitations on the design of the project, since it obviously could have a great impact on a delicate ecological system.

It started in 1996 and after 2001 the approach changed to focus mainly on marketing systems for camelid products. Thus it promoted the consumption of llama meat, especially dried meat, in the local markets.

The obstacles the UN organ met are already known by many South-Americans: first high interest rates combined with the fact that llama farmers do not own land deeds or possess assets naturally limited their access to credit. Moreover, several farmer associations were not legally constituted and so could not have access to legal credit anyway.

The funds and resources were managed by outsiders working for the IFAD, in spite of the fact that the locals insistently asked to do it themselves. Bolivians in rural and urban areas are already used to public health campaigns of vaccination and other measures, which extend to matters related to farm animals. Nevertheless, those in charge of the project wanted them to pay for the Veterinary services and buy the medicines, and got surprised at the farmers' reluctance to accept such setback in their social conquests.

The project implementers in the middle of the process decided to abandon most of the proposed initiatives and concentrated their efforts in the development of the aspects related to market economy.

Important note: Native Camelids of the Americas, including Llama, Alpaca and Vicuña, have been endangered species. Llamas have been nearly pushed into extinction and only survived in the harsh upper regions of their natural territory.