One Family’s Greenhouse in Huayco Arriba, Bolivia

Justinano’s wife said that before they built the greenhouse, Don Justiniano would say “I am not an animal to eat greens; why would I waste my time on building a greenhouse?”

Now that we have a greenhouse that I am tending to (along with my son’s help with watering), what we produce helps us and I am going to the market less often. My husband now says that it seems that I am cooking better! – December, 2015

Picture of Justiniano Alanes Ventura's family greenhouse - (his son in the picture)

Picture of Justiniano’s family greenhouse – (his son in the picture)

Center for Ecological Agriculture

Justinanio’s family greenhouse – one of many built in the community – is an example of why we built the Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA), which provides low-tech, low-cost tools and training that improve food security and nutrition for rural Bolivian farmers.

Mano a Mano's Center for Ecological Agriculture

Mano a Mano’s Center for Ecological Agriculture

In 2015, the Center for Ecological Agriculture had more than 1,100 visitors, hosted 12 agricultural education workshops for rural farmers, and built 102 greenhouses in Bolivia.

Recent Photos from the CEA

Here are some recent photos from the CEA:

The greenhouses (yellow-topped buildings) now dot the landscape in Tapacari.

The greenhouses (yellow-topped buildings) now dot the landscape in Tapacari.

Video Overview of the Center for Ecological Agriculture



Why Did We Build the Center for Ecological Agriculture?

At its base, Mano a Mano is a community development organization:

  • We partner with Bolivian communities on projects that they identify, focusing on the most basic needs that are currently going unmet.
  • We bring many different people together to complete projects that none of us could do on our own.
  • We focus on projects that are sustainable – we maintain strong relationships with communities but we try to help people help themselves and have them take control and ownership of projects. Ongoing maintenance and administration are handled by the communities.
  • We want our projects to be integrated and serve as springboards for other projects – sometimes through more projects with Mano a Mano, and sometimes through the Bolivian government or other organizations who build upon the base provided through our first project. For example:
    • With Mano a Mano’s 37-mile El Palmar road project that was completed in late 2014, the Bolivian government is taking advantage of the improved transportation and is currently building 3 new bridges, a school, new housing, and installing electricity along the road.
    • Often, when Mano a Mano builds a clinic, it is the first project in the community, with the understanding that if the community and local government meet their obligations and do well Mano a Mano will continue working with the community on other projects like schools and community bathrooms.
    • The first implementation project with the CEA – building greenhouses in Jironkota – builds on the clinic that Mano a Mano completed there in 2013.
Mano a Mano's clinic in Jironkota.

Mano a Mano’s clinic in Jironkota.

The CEA was a natural addition and complements many of our existing initiatives, while filling a need that was not being met with our previous projects. To give just one example, the clinic we have in Jironkota provides healthcare access for the area, but does not address some of the basic issues that cause rural Bolivian farmers to get sick in the first place – primarily nutrition and food security.

What Does the CEA Do?

Some of the tools available through the CEA.

Some of the tools available through the CEA.

The CEA achieves 4 distinct goals for Mano a Mano:

  • implements low-cost, low-tech tools for Bolivian communities
  • provides training and demonstration of sustainable farming techniques at the center (the ‘open book’ to show farmers what is possible)
  • provides a place for Mano a Mano to test and pilot different projects before implementing in the field (the ‘Mano a Mano lab’)
  • integrates Mano a Mano as an organization (3 out of our 4 counterpart organizations are building their offices or warehouses on the same land) – it serves as the ‘Mano a Mano hub’ in Cochabamba