Genevieva: meet your farmers

 

Meet the farmers: Genevieva

 

An arm full of freshly harvested black quinoa to add to the pile
An arm full of freshly harvested black quinoa to add to the pile

It is harvest time in Cabana ( I have just returned). The quinoa crops this year have not been amazing, due to heavy rainfall in January and a spate of hailstones in April. In Peru the seasons are reversed, given that it is in the southern hemisphere. Yields are going to be below 1 tonne an acre, compared to your average cereal crop yields in Europe of almost 7 tonnes. Having spoken to many farmers over a week touring their fields, climate change is something they are all worried about. It is not only westerners that are getting uneasy about humanity’s effect on current weather patterns.

For this mini-profile, we have Genevieva. You can see her here bringing back freshly sickled black quinoa from her fields. It then has to be threshed to separate the seeds from the plant, either by hand with a wooden stick or with one of the small portable threshing machines that the cooperative lends out to its members. The seeds are then separated from any dust via a sieve and with the simple use of wind, before being bagged. It will then be processed by the central plant whenever the farmer decides to sell part of his or her harvest, the non-processed quinoa being stored in the farmer’s own warehouse. This ensures that they can have an income over the year, rather than having to sell to a middleman straight after the harvest.

Genevieva with the Black Quinola back in front of her freshly scythed black quinoa
Genevieva with the Black Quinola pack in front of her freshly scythed black quinoa

Genevieva has been part of the cooperative for 3 years now, and has five kids, one of whom she is proud to say is in college. I asked her what she liked to do to relax. After returning home to do the washing and the cooking, she now has a small TV and likes to watch programmes on the one channel they can receive out here.

Her little treat is getting up at 6am. Yes, she admits, it is pretty late but she loves the lie in (most of the farmers get up at 4 or 5 in the morning for the long day ahead of them).