Uber Claros, harvesting success

He gets up every morning at 4:00 a.m. to go to the fields and take a look at his livelihood: his crops. After that, at around 8:00 a.m., he goes home to have breakfast and then returns to the field to work the land. “There are plenty of chores, and little time to spare,” said Uber Claros, at 3500 meters over sea level, in the highlands of Lima.

Uber has been a member of the Lacsanga Community for 38 years, and since he was 12 years old he has been growing fruit, but with the arrival of the engineers from the Cheves project and the workshops they provided, his life has changed.

“In the beginning, when the engineers came and proposed providing training and projects, I thought it was just empty promises, but over time and after coexisting with each other I realized they meant what they said, they taught us how to properly grow fruits, and since then the life in the community has changed for the better.”

The Lacsanga community is located in the Huaura river basin, and the main economic activity is fruit growing, mainly peach, avocado and cherimoya. As a consequence, villagers and representatives of the Cheves Hydropower Project, executed by Statkraft, gave priority to the implementation of the project “Improvement of production and management capacity of producers for the development of fruit production chains in the Huaura river basin” in 2011. This fruit production project was aimed at meeting the technical training needs of farmers from the communities in the Huaura river basin in order to increase the productivity and improve the quality of fruits. Additionally, the project focused on improving the trading capabilities of producers for the identification of the best sales channels. However, in spite of all these initiatives there was a persisting problem: water shortage. In view of this, the project also included training on irrigation system management.

“Our dream for so many years was to have a water supply system in the community to improve our crops. Thank God this was made a reality with the help of the Cheves project.  The engineers helped us with the implementation of an irrigation channel, the Uganán channel, which benefits and will continue to benefit the community for many years to come.”

With the know-how we gained during the implementation of the Uganán channel, the members of the community decided to put what they had learned into practice by building another channel in the Ucruche-Karun sector.

“Ucruche is a very remote place, it is a desert area where we parcel out the land in order to expand the agricultural frontier, but we still had the water supply issue. We watered the crops by means of irrigation ditches, but too much water was wasted.  Our productivity was low, and in some cases our crops died out. But ever since we gained know-how on how to build a close channel, we put what we had learned into practice, and now each parcel has a water valve that we can open to water the crops. This is a huge benefit for the community.”

The Ucruche project aimed at making use of the irrigation water stored by the Ucruche reservoir by conveying it to the crop fields via a technified irrigation system. The results could not have been better, as Uber points out.

“It is because of all the workshops and training sessions we have received that I have been able to significantly improve my crops.  Now I have water at my disposal, and I possess the expertise to improve my productivity. In the past we grew fruits hoping for the best, it was common for one plant to yield one and a half fruit crates, but now it yields 6 crates.  The community is happy because now life is different.”

Finally, Uber want to leave a message for everyone who wants to venture into this field.

“The Cheves project was a big help, but now it is up to the community to continue this endeavor. The agriculture field needs a lot of dedication and expertise, if you want to venture into this field, you will need investment and hard work.  If a private company comes to your community, have discussions with them, and take advantage of the benefits they offer.”