A constant struggle but worthy work
Farm challenges at NPH Bolivia's agricultural programme
May 5, 2019 - New Zealand
From days of nonstop rain to constant sun and heat, the changing climate at NPH Bolivia is the biggest challenge facing our agriculture program.
With a little more than three acres of farm land and only two full time employees working our land, challenges to the farm can be difficult to solve. It is difficult but worthy work and the benefits for NPH children a plentiful, the farm providing good nutrition, a source of work and training and animal husbandry skills for all those involved.
Agronomy Coordinator Hugo Antelo Vargas has seen everything when it comes to farming with 32 years in the field including four at NPH Bolivia. He, alongside his assistant of three years Erland Payares Hurtado, have been working hard to counter the main problem that faces our home, the changing weather.
“In our part of Bolivia the climate varies so much every day that it can be challenging to combat,” Hugo said. “Some days it will rain constantly, and then it will stop and be very dry and hot putting a strain on our crops.”
This year the rainfall has been below expectation, which has started to affect our crop´s growth and output. The crop that is hit hardest due to the lack of rain is our rice fields, which needs more water than our other crops. While the changing climate has impacted our crops, it has yet to affect us in a large scale damaging way.
“We will begin to harvest our crops in April and May and are looking to have another successful year of harvest,” Hugo said. “But we could have done better; the climate and lack of water have hurt us this year.”
With our water irrigation project still in the works, there is unfortunately not a lot our home can do to counter the issues coming from the changing climate.
“Sadly the only thing we can do is water by hand, but it is difficult with such a large area of land,” Hugo said. “We can only try our best to protect our crops.”
While the lack of water has started to affect our crops, our farm animals have seen strong growth for the future. We currently have 70 cows for milk and meat, our pigs just gave birth to piglets, and we added 5,000 fish to our fish ponds.
Even with the challenges and the highs and lows of the agriculture program, Hugo understands why the hard work is important and who it ultimately benefits.
“We are here for the kids and to provide them healthy and filling food every day,” he said.
In his 4 years working at NPH Bolivia, he has realised how unique the community is and how much he enjoys being a part of it.
“I really enjoy working with the children, caretakers, volunteers and my assistant,” he said. “Everyone here works very hard and you can see the results of that hard work every day.”
Acting Director NPH NZ