Unlocking the potential of some of the poorest people in Bolivia

Clara Burton 11th Oct 2012
Factory workers in Bolivia. © CARE Factory workers in Bolivia. © CARE

Value Chains, Business Plans and International Markets. What do these terms mean for some of the poorest people living in the isolated farming region of Sopachuy in Bolivia?

Quite a lot, it turns out: “Access to bigger markets means increased income and stable employment which will help to pull hundreds of farming families out of poverty in this region” explains Isabel, CARE Bolivia’s Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor on the drive through the beautiful undulating hills of the Chuquisaca region, home to some of these very poor people.

Three hours after leaving the Departmental capital of Sucre we pull up outside a small building with the sign APROCMI. This is a women-led association that transforms raw grain (amaranth) into products such as biscuits, a popular powdered drink and children’s cereal, to be sold in local markets.

We are greeted by Lydia, the young plant manager, who gives us a tour of the plant and explains how APROCMI works. At the beginning of each year APROCMI has a production planning meeting with all members. Here they give out amaranth seeds, which grow into the nutritious grain common to the region. Members come back with the yielded crops and receive a little above market price. Being a member of an association provides smallholders with a secured income each year.

This is great, but they envisage bigger things for the association. While giving us a tour of the plant, Lydia explains that they want to reach national and international markets. This is where CARE has stepped in.

Lydia explains that CARE provides the necessary expertise for APROCMI to reach its goal. This includes training on manufacturing practices and processes to ensure their product is of the utmost quality, in negotiation skills to help them secure a fair price for their products, and in governance procedures so that, organisationally-speaking, the association functions effectively.

Bigger markets mean a demand for more raw materials, which means great things for the wider community - more jobs and more secured income for local farmers who would otherwise not have access to these distant markets.

We left the plant with the feeling that APROCMI was going places. What made this project visit so positive was the vision that Lydia had for APROCMI. They know what they want and have a broad idea of what they need to do. All they need is a helping hand to help them fulfil the vision of securing sales at national and international level.

APROCMI is one of many associations of famers that CARE is helping to reach in rural settings in Bolivia.

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