Family agriculture in the Bolivian highlands has been influenced by many national and global trends over the last 70 years, including agrarian reform, the green revolution, technological globalization, migration, and increasing climate variability. The associated political, social, technological, and climatic changes have increased the vulnerability of agricultural production systems and communal organizational mechanisms. In this context, PROSUCO posits that to increase the resiliency and productivity of family agriculture, it is necessary to work first on the human and social capital of communities, and then on methodological and technological innovations adapted to specific contexts. This can be done by working together with farmers to respond to their unique and strategic needs.
Since 2009, the Yapuchiri, or “sower” in Aymara, approach has been used to form and strengthen local experts as resource people inside and outside their communities. Between 2012 and 2017, PROSUCO expanded its Yapuchiri network across the altiplano, working with more than 50 Yapuchiris in two large farmer organizations that reach hundreds of farmers using extension services and participatory research. In the previous phase, achievements were made including Yapuchiris’ training and certification being recognized by the Ministry of Education so that they can access technical provision grants, mid- and long-term weather forecasts generated by the Yapuchiris (based on the systematic reading and interpretation of bioindicators) now being featured on the national meteorological institution’s forecast webpage, and some municipalities developing and using lesson plans about the Yapuchiris in rural schools. This project seeks to provide more sustainability and scale to this work by influencing municipal policy and working with a larger network of actors.