Mano a Mano created its Center for Ecological Agricultural (CEA) in 2013 at the request of subsistence farmers who asked us to teach them more sustainable farming practices. Their goals: to produce enough food to feed their families a healthy diet, to have some to sell, and to pass productive land on to their children and grandchildren.

Mano a Mano’s Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA), located on the outskirts of Cochabamba, provides low-cost training and tools to rural Bolivian farmers.

Since then, the CEA has taught over 6,000 individuals about ecologically sound, sustainable food-raising practices, as well as related topics such as good nutrition.

Training Farmers to Prepare Organic Fertilizer in Arampampa – May 2022

In May 2022, lead CEA agronomist, Juan Carlos Cardenas, traveled to four of the Bolivian high Andes communities that are located in the municipality of Arampampa to provide onsite workshops. Farmers from this area had visited the CEA in February, reviewed its demonstrations of various recommended farming practices, and asked for follow-up training in their own communities. They asked specifically for help in improving their soil without the use of chemical fertilizers, and with protecting their crops without use of pesticides. 

Arampampa is a municipality in the department of Potosi, about a 3-4 hour drive south of the city of Cochabamba.

Juan Carlos provided the requested training last week. Because the farmers would not yet have a supply of mature compost, he carried about 18 pounds with him.  Once at each site, he taught farmers to create natural alternatives to chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Making Compost Tea and Bokashi

Specifically, during the workshops in each of the four requesting communities, more than 100 farmers learned to:

  • Make “compost tea” by adding water and whey to the compost that Juan Carlos transported from the CEA. This “tea” becomes an effective, ecologically sound pesticide, which can easily be sprayed or sprinkled onto plants;
  • Create a bokashi mix, using the following recipe of locally available ingredients:
    • 1 wheelbarrow of soil
    • 1 wheelbarrow of sheep manure
    • 25 pounds of wheat husk/chaff
    • 5 pounds of ash
    • 2 ½ pounds of ground egg shells
    • 1 quart whey
    • ½ chunk of brown sugar-like substance
    • Small amount of yeast
  • Work the bokashi mix into their soil. At this point farmers have an ecologically sound fertilizer.

According to Juan Carlos, these mixtures are as effective as chemical alternatives without damaging the natural environment. He has completed onsite training on this technique to over 600 farmers so far this year.

Community leader Don Lino (speaking Quechua) tells Juan Carlos that he will apply what he learned during today’s workshop because the materials are easily available and inexpensive, and that making “compost tea” and bokashi is quite easy work. He believes that his vegetables will be bigger and tastier as a result.  

Residents of the Arampampa communities say that this is the first time someone has come to teach them. They have asked Juan Carlos to return to show them how to improve the nutrition and sanitary care of their animals.

Training and Education to Complement Mano a Mano’s Infrastructure Projects

Continuing education and training are important components for every Mano a Mano counterpart organization and their areas of focus – for our own staff and interns, as well as others. In addition to Mano a Mano Bolivia’s continuing health education and Dream Fund programs, Mano a Mano International Partners hosts interns from local universities and is a social work field placement site for Metro State University; Mano a Mano Nuevo Mundo provides training for heavy equipment operators; Mano a Mano Aviation provides training and internships for aviation students (pilots and mechanics); and Mano a Mano Internacional provides internships for agronomy students and provides training programs for public school teachers, physical therapists, and rural Bolivian farmers (like these workshops in Arampampa).

Learn More About Mano a Mano’s CEA