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How One Woman is Leading in Crisis and Helping Fellow Women Farmers in Ica, Peru

A Peruvian woman holds dirt in her cupped hands. She is wearing a bright red, gold, and black sweater and a white facemask.

Photo credit: Yesenia Espinoza / CARE Peru

Photo credit: Yesenia Espinoza / CARE Peru

A She Feeds the World case study.

This is the story of Marina’s leadership, compassion, and innovation. Marina is a 74- year-old farmer in San José de los Molinos, Ica. She began participating in the She Feeds the World Peru program in late 2019 – just a few months before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even in the face of economic uncertainty and challenges like isolation, Marina recognized a need in her community and connected with other women farmers in a new virtual way through Facebook by building community, conveying solidarity, and sharing the farming knowledge she learned through She Feeds the World.

Marina’s story encapsulates the power of improving agricultural productivity, engaging women with marketing activities, and increasing her voice within the community.

Marina has been a farmer and agricultural entrepreneur for a long time and she now owns Juan Alberto Farm – lovingly named in honor of her father. Marina uses organic farming practices to produce a variety of fruits and vegetables including Hass avocado, pecans, grapes, lemons, oranges, plums, papayas, figs, and blackberries. She sells her produce primarily through direct delivery sales, farmers markets, and, most recently, her farm is a supplier of Qaly Warma (a national school feeding program). Marina joined She Feeds the World after hearing about the program while participating in a farmers market organized by the Ministry of Agriculture called “From the Farm to the Pot.”

Marina started attending She Feeds the World’s in-person farmer trainings, but a few months later everything changed with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Peru was hit especially hard by coronavirus despite implementing lockdown measures and mobility restrictions. In response, CARE quickly pivoted to delivering farmer training and support through virtual methods like WhatsApp. This was crucial for CARE to stay connected to program participants and ensure continuity of their businesses and access to food. Marina felt the effects of social isolation very strongly and missed the camaraderie of her fellow women farmers. When people had to stay home, women farmers couldn’t easily share information and business ideas anymore, and not seeing each other meant not keeping up on their lives and their families.

Marina felt lonely, but also knew that she was not the only person feeling lonely. She felt compelled to help and was determined to do so. That’s when she decided to make use of her farm’s existing Facebook fan page and give it new life to support her community through a challenging period. During the early parts of the pandemic, she posted motivational quotes and cultivated a sense of community. It was a great way to stay connected and she started to grow her own online community.

As the pandemic continued and the context even started to improve, Marina shifted into sharing the agriculture techniques she was learning through She Feeds the World, with her online followers. Marina says, “We received training on vegetable and fruit crops, as well as marketing of our products, which today in a pandemic has helped us a lot.” Not only does Marina appreciate She Feeds the World and benefit from the trainings, marketing techniques, and access to markets, but her community benefits too since she has become a true influencer – sharing her knowledge and guiding other women farmers.

Since Marina joined She Feeds the World, Juan Alberto Farm has invested in a new irrigation system, which allows for important savings of water and time. Her farm also produces an organic fertilizer, called bokachi, with inputs that they have on hand such as dry leaves from crops, which boosts her agricultural productivity and results in high-quality organic products which she can sell for a better price.

The Juan Alberto Farm continues developing great educational and communication materials and sharing them with their community through the farm’s Facebook fan page. Marina thinks this is very important and says, “The more trained women farmers are, the greater benefit they will bring to society, the more knowledge we have, we will be able to produce more, improve our health, and take care of the Earth.”

About She Feeds the World Peru

She Feeds the World is a partnership between CARE and The PepsiCo Foundation being implemented in Peru to address inequality in agriculture to increase access to food, water and nutrition; enhance economic opportunity; and build resilient food systems. She Feeds the World Peru focuses interventions on food and nutrition security and resilience to climate change, taking into account that the role of women leaders in agriculture is essential to achieving significant change in the agricultural economic model.

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