Meeting With the Alpacheros
Meeting with the Alpacheros, people who grow alpacas, from the three associations, Putaccasa, Huanacopampa, and Sacsamarca, located in the province of Ayacucho, was my first goal as soon as I reached the area. After I was introduced to Victor Cayampi, a member of the Alpaca Association of Putacassa, whose mother was killed during the military conflict, I asked him to get together all the Alpacheros of the association for a meeting. Then, I departed for Sacsamarca to schedule a meeting with the Association there. The goal of the meetings was to know how many people are active in these associations, how many alpacas they have, where they sell the wool and at what price, and what should be done in order to sell the wool at higher prices.
It was 8:00am of June 29 when I arrived with Jesus, the project manager for EPAF, in Putaccasa to meet with the Alpacheros of both associations, Putaccasa and Huanacopampa. Huanacopampa is a community that is twenty-five minutes away from Putaccasa. We had the meeting in a room that was very cold, and it was not well organized. The walls were almost covered with various posts. One of the posts, which I liked, was a calendar of alpaca. It described every stage of alpaca: reproduction, shearing, and choosing the machos.
The members of both associations highlighted the importance of improvements in the pasture, and the necessity to genetically improve the quality of the alpaca wool. To do this, they need to buy alpaca machos category A, but it will take up to two years to improve the quality of the wool. Although they focused on improving the quality of the wool genetically, nobody mentioned the possibility of processing the wool they have, which automatically will increase the value of it. After more than two hours of conversation, we went back to Sacsamarca. The next day, at 7:30pm, we met with the Association of Sacsamarca. About seventeen people came to the meeting. After we introduced ourselves, we asked what are the necessities to sell the wool at higher prices. The answers were the same as in Putaccasa: the improvement of pasture and buying alpaca machos.
All three associations are composed of forty members, without counting the spouses of these people and the children. They are the owners of 1,490 alpacas, and they are selling the pound of wool at a price between 6 and 12 soles ($1.83 and $3.66). Although I was satisfied of what I learned about the Alpacheros and the wool, I remarked a few important factors. First, all people were very grateful that we came to support them, and to implement a project that will help them to sell the wool at higher prices. In fact, when we presented the idea of building a center where the wool can be processed, they were very happy. Second, they understood that this project could be done through investment, which they cannot afford. Third, all people said that they are committed to work to improve the quality of the wool.
In order to move this project forward, we need to capacitate these three associations. The Alpacheros should be taught that they are the producers of the alpaca wool, which is very expensive in the market, and they should not sell it at the current price. They do not need to continue what their parents did: growing alpacas, shearing them, and selling the wool to the intermediaries. Although this routine has been carried out for many years and generations, their income did not increase.
Equally important, they need to be guided, oriented, and better informed about the industry of the alpaca wool. In other words, they can sell the wool at higher prices if they process it. They will not become rich over night, but certainly they can improve the quality of their lives. They will not only receive higher prices for their product, but they will also be satisfied and happier about their work. We can help them by placing the tools in their hands, and showing them how they can become better producers of a material that is expensive and highly valued in the market.
When we departed, they were very grateful for our visit, and said that they are waiting for our return to explain the project in details. They said that a few years ago an NGOs came to help them, but they did not come back, and they hope that this will not happen with us. We assured them that we would come back either by the end of July, or at the beginning of August.
Posted By Daniel Prelipcian (Peru)
Posted Jul 18th, 2016