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Monday, August 4

Historical Andean farming technique stir interest

Peru Farmers Revive 'Waru Waru' System: "Canahua said he still sees many of the raised fields being maintained since the CARE program ended in 2001. He is now looking at using them in conjunction with other ancient techniques such as interconnected irrigation lakes called 'qochas' and the Inca-built terraces known as 'andenes' for farming the steep Andean slopes." One of the drawbacks to this agricultural system is that it does not lend itself to mechanization -- i.e. big fields that can be plowed by tractors. But the risks of the "modern" system is that if you get hit by draught, frost or flooding, all your investment can be wiped out. Throughout the Andes, the traditional scheme played off managing multiple micro-niches in the environment, spreading risks across the board and relying on community support. Unfortunately, traditional technology was always in danger of being pushed aside by modern approaches. For the past 20 years, there's been a lot of efforts at rescuing this knowledge, but it's been a tough row to hoe.

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