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100,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Agriculture and Food Security
The problem: Poverty and overgrazing in the Andes
In Anchonga, one of the poorest districts of Peru (67th out of 1832), almost 96% of the population lives under the poverty line, with 86% living in extreme poverty. The region also suffers from low education indicators, especially among women: 30% of women over the age of 15 are illiterate, compared to 10% of men. Two-thirds (66,9%) of the children under the age of 5 in the Anchonga district suffer from chronic malnutrition. Overgrazing livestock in these areas also represents the single most important cause of environmental degradation in the Andes.
The solution: Reducing overgrazing for social and environmental impacts
Stromme Foundation and Tierra de Niños will adapt a technological solution known as Hydroponic Green Forage (HGF) to cultivate grass from barley in greenhouses on multi-level racks. Compared to the common practice of cultivating fodder grass (e.g. alfalfa), HGF can produce up to 2000 times more feed per m2, while using 150 times less water. This makes it possible to raise livestock in relatively small, resource-constrained areas, which has several economic, social and environmental and advantages.
For example, the feed produced from the HGF process has improved nutritional content that results in healthier livestock and faster weight gain compared to normal grazing, as both the green and the roots of forage are eaten by livestock. Additionally, the use of HGF cuts down the distance livestock need to walk to reach grazing grounds, subsequently, reducing the energy they waste (more weight gain per kg of fodder) and livestock exposure to parasites. Keeping animals in confined areas also makes veterinary care easier and facilitates the recollection of fresh manure, which will be used as an input for the production of biogas and fertilizer, thus further adding value to the production model of the project.
The HGF technique is mainly applied in large cattle farms. Although HGF has been implemented in a few isolated cases in rural areas with small producers, this pilot project is the first effort to embed the technique in a professional business model, combined with a participatory community development process and articulation with local government entities who also appreciate the non-economic benefits. All these elements increase its value as a replicable model. Through DIV funding, the project aims to demonstrate that the HGF solution can compete economically with existing alternatives (free grazing and in-field grass cultivation), even without taking additional social and environmental benefits into consideration.
Announcing the award at Demand Solutions, an event aimed at bringing together the most creative minds in the world to discuss and share innovative solutions for addressing development issues in Latin America and the Caribbean, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah highlighted the projects as an example of USAID’s commitment to "harness a community of innovators and entrepreneurs to solve difficult development challenges."
The potential: Cost-effectiveness, impacts, and implications
This project anticipates several layers of social impact. It hopes to see reductions in child labor as animals will need little or no herding. Health and safety of children and women involved in shepherding will be improved thanks to better veterinary care and less frequent contact with animals. The availability of meat that is free of parasites will also contribute to improved public health.
In addition to its social impacts, the project hopes to limit overgrazing, the single most important cause of one of the main environmental problems in the Andes: soil erosion. The project makes it possible to reduce the impact of overgrazing without limiting livestock production ─ an indispensable source of livelihoods for many Andean and rural populations.
This investment is part of USAID’s Innovation Fund for the Americas, the Americas arm of DIV that aims to invest in cost-effective, breakthrough solutions to key development challenges in the region.
Last updated: May 31, 2016