What is it really like to be a family farmer from a developing country – Part 5

This is the fifth and final instalment about Cristela, the family farmer from Colombia.

ÁD: So in what areas do you want to improve your family farm? Would you like a bigger access to the market or a more complete trade system like the one we just talked about?

C: Well the trade system is quite interesting. Also, workshops with people would be rather useful. Workshops for example about bread-making, about all the possibilities for quinoa usage. How to add value to raw material is key.

I also do need some technology. I currently have nothing, I use no technology but I definitely would like to acquire some. I need a machine to thresh quinoa since right now we do it manually. There is a huge machine for communal use parked at the village center but you know how it is to move that thing around. It’s very heavy.

There is a need for a threshing machine. A low-cost one, a portable one. My son Julián has no problem imagining it. If he had support from someone it could be developed.


Cristela and I on her farm, August 2014. 

ÁD: Are there any pest and pathogen issues at your farm?

C: Not as much.

We need training on the transformation of raw material and learning how to add value. For example this plant yacón, it has so many uses and there can be several things made with it but you need to know certain things. How to extract yacón honey for example. There isn’t good, clear and reliable information online on how to make yacón honey. It can be found online, people sell it, but I don’t know how to make it, I would like to learn to make this and many other things with what I grow.

ÁD: Although you’ve had the farm up and running for only three years, I wanted to ask you about climate change. Have you noticed its impacts?

C: It doesn’t matter that I’ve had the farm for only three years because I’ve lived here for a really long time. I have felt the effects of climate change. When I was a child, it used to rain a lot during April, June, July and November. In October we used to have storms. This year for example, we had storms during February. Or it rained last December and that usually wasn’t the case when I was a child.

People and the soil have become so unaccustomed to this pattern. Now it rains a little and people say: what a storm! The soil is less capable of absorbing water than it used to. It rains a little and we get mud and puddles. It’s so altered that the soil becomes very sensible to the sun, two weeks of sunlight and it starts cracking up. Getting dry and cracking. So everything is more extreme. So yes, I can tell the difference. I’ve lived here my whole life. Cristela is 45 years old.

We are also competing for water and it wasn’t like this. There is a small stream that comes down my house.  When we have a sunny season, if the farms that are located upwards at a higher altitude than mine use irrigation, water no longer comes down the stream that passes by my house.

ÁD: It’s really important to remind our readers that we are close to the Paramo ecosystem which helps regulate the water cycle. It’s popular belief that one of the cleanest types of water is born here.

Click here to read part 1

Click here to read part 2

Click here to read part 3

Click here to read part 4


5 thoughts on “What is it really like to be a family farmer from a developing country – Part 5

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