Since 2004, Andean Naturals has been working with and on behalf of Bolivian quinoa farmers to ensure that the rewards of quinoa’s rising popularity return to the communities in which it was grown. A leading US importer of quinoa and other ancient grains, Andean seeks support for its quest from businesses and individuals who share its goals of fairness and sustainability.
In 2013, the company launched the Andean Family Farmers (AFF) program to coordinate and expand its assistance in the field to family farms around the salt flats of southern Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni.
As of June 2015, AFF’s partners include Kashi, the California whole-grain pioneer known for health-aware brands such as GOLEAN(R). Kashi is providing majority funding for the AFF Light-A-Community project to bring electricity to the remotest parts of the quinoa farmlands.
The project is designed to supply solar-powered electricity to off-grid rural homes and irrigation projects far from electrical lines.
With support from Kashi, AFF is working to provide the benefits of solar power to up to 60 homes located in six isolated farm communities. Each home receives a solar package that includes equipment (solar panels, a lithium battery, cables and lights), installation and user training. For the first time there will be light for kids to do homework after dark and families will be able to run a tv or computer and charge a cellphone — giving them access to market information and connection to the whole modern world of digital opportunity(!)
Kashi has also joined an ongoing initiative by Andean Naturals, Andean Family Farmers and Kellogg Company to bring irrigation to far-flung farming areas. This part of the Light-A-Community project involves installing solar power systems to drive pumps that feed remote irrigation systems from the newly dug wells. A reliable water supply is critical to raising crop yields and protecting farmers against extreme drought. Irrigation systems will be installed and solar-equipped in four communities during the second half of 2015.
Announcing Kashi’s participation with AFF, Louise Cotterill (Associate Director at Kashi) commented, “Kashi is an active partner in the Andean Family Farmers program in support of quinoa farmers in the Altiplano of southern Bolivia. We are working together with leaders of farming associations to provide solar power to off-grid grower families. The Andean Family Farmers team is installing solar kits to light homes and systems to power remote irrigation projects, helping to raise living standards and increase quinoa crop yields.”
Sarah Connolly, Head of Mission for Andean Naturals and AFF project manager, said, “As it brings electricity to remote homes and irrigation systems, the Light-A-Community project is making a visible and measurable difference to the quality of daily life and to productivity in the fields. We are very grateful to our partners at Kashi for supporting our efforts and helping to build a secure future for Bolivian quinoa farmers.”