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Gruppenbild: Naturland Bäuerinnen aus Peru besuchen bayerischen KollegenArthur Stein mit Espirita Guerrero Romero (Mitte) und Yanet Giovana Garay Flores (2. v.r.). Außen: Agnes Bergmeister (l.) und Nora Taleb (r.) von Naturland Fair.From the home of the potato to the Scharlhof farm in Röhrmoos, Bavaria: on Monday, 26th September, 2016, two representatives of Agropia, a Peruvian Naturland smallholders’ co-operative, paid a visit to Arthur Stein, a Naturland farmer, on his farm in Röhrmoos in Upper Bavaria. “The aim of Naturland farmers the world over is to work in harmony with nature, to provide people with top quality organic foodstuffs and to maintain a healthy basis of existence for future generations,” says Stein in his words of welcome to his two Peruvian colleagues.

During the course of their tour of the Scharlhof farm, the farmers exchanged their practical experiences of cultivating organic potatoes in Germany and in the Andes of Peru. After the tour, the group then visited the sorting and washing plant of a neighbouring organic farmer on whose premises Stein, a Naturland farmer, stores his potatoes and where they are packed for sale to retailers. On the way there, the two guests had an opportunity to watch a mechanical potato harvester in action.
In contrast, potato cultivation at Agropia, the smallholders’ co-operative, is still largely manual. In the Peruvian Andes, known as the “cradle of the first potato”, the 75 smallholders cultivate traditional varieties of potato – termed “papas nativas” – at a height of 4,000 metres. In this way the smallholders contribute to the preservation of the unique diversity of varieties which are an element of Peru’s cultural heritage.

Fair trade creates prospects for the future

As part of the Faire Woche, the annual German nation-wide fair-trade campaign, the general manager of the co-operative, Yanet Giovana Garay Flores, and Espirita Guerrero Romero, a smallholder, are currently touring Germany and giving an account of how organic agriculture combined with fair trade are contributing to the improvement of their living conditions. On her “chakra”, a field of about 3 hectares, Esperita Guerrero Romero grows as many as 80 different varieties of potato. “Fair trade has made a significant improvement to our economic situation. It means that growing numbers of our members can send their children to school and also to further education institutes. For example, my daughter is learning to become an accountant.“ This is the impact fair trade has made on the life of Guerrero Romero, as one example. The co-operative is well prepared for the future. The co-operative has been able to establish its own plant in which the potatoes have been processed to produce crisps for the first time this year. In this way Agropia has achieved independence from price fluctuations and a greater share of the added value remains with the growers. The red and blue potato crisps certified to the “Naturland Fair” standards are sold throughout Germany in worldshops through the Fair Trade Co-operative dwp eG.