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Parque de la Papa

Pampallacta, Peru

Critical Need

The Parque de la Papa is an organization of four communities located in the highlands of the Sacred Valley in Cusco, Perú, which work together for the preservation of agricultural biodiversity and the retention of Indigenous culture. Approximately 6,000 community members currently work together to preserve the area with hundreds of varieties of native potato (around 1,300) as well as the knowledge and ancient technology related to the cultivation and management of their agricultural landscape – a cornerstone of life in the area, though resources are limited, their lands are considered a center of potato origin and diversity, currently one of the four most important crops on earth, produced and preserved by the community throughout the centuries.

 

Economic opportunities that enable Indigenous people to remain living in the communities in which they have traditionally lived for generations are also desperately needed, that’s why Parque de la Papa, with the support of many international organizations, launched agro-tourism programs in 2006 and developed community micro-enterprises related to tourism services and activities with the purpose of creating economic opportunity. However, the community enterprises were in need of customers in order to reach its full potential and to achieve financial success. Currently, the community enterprises have significant barriers to access the international market, and when they do have access, they risk losing unique traditions and cultures. Women in particuar face barriers to accessing formal job opportunities, and youth have limited access to significant job and education fulfilment, and so often migrate to the big cities. The environment and wildlife need to be protected with sustainable plans managed and lead by locals, and tourism can be an excellent tool to protect natural cultural resources and improve empowerment for community members.

Our Involvement

Planeterra and their local partner “Asociación ANDES” has supported Parque de la Papa (Potato Park) through training and customization of an experience for travellers. Travellers from Planeterra’s partners at G Adventures visit the park to learn about life in a rural agricultural Andean community and their seed conservation program, which is conserving Indigenous potatoes alongside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway. Visitors also learn about the traditional planting or harvesting process, as well as indigenous weaving practices. Planeterra also provided funds to improve the facilities at the visitor center in the Pampallaqta community which represents a much-needed boost for the communities.

Impact

Parque de la Papa is seeing an increase in tourist activity due to our ongoing partnership. This increase allows the park to invest in more opportunities, for example with women weaving textiles, and a greater economic benefit to the community as a whole. In 2014, Planeterra also funded a micro-enterprise owned by a group of 12 women who make medicinal teas by hand, from one of the six communities, and they sell their teas at one of our other projects, the Parwa Community Restaurant. Here is a message directly from Lino Mamani Huaraca, a Parque de la Papa community member and guide: “It is always very good for us whenever tourists visit; this is why we invite them from all over the world. I invite them to see us work and how we utilize the potato, to see us sew, dance and sing. I want them to see how we live together with Mother Nature as well as the APUS (the mountain spirits), wild animals and plants. I want them to learn from our knowledge on potatoes and of our forefathers, the reason as to why we are trying to maintain our ancient traditional knowledge. We all live together in harmony with Pachamama (Mother Earth) and we like to share our experience with all of our visitors.” Also Nazario Quispe Amanu a man who is a local guide reported to us: “Our agro-ecotourism is an important way to generate direct income to our families and communities. This money is for example invested in children's education, it also encourages us to preserve our biodiversity through environmentally sustainable agriculture, which is the main element to ensure our food sovereignty”.

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