Challenges on the Farm
From days of nonstop rain to constant sun and heat, the unpredictable weather at NPH Bolivia is the biggest challenge facing our agriculture program.
March 15, 2019 - Bolivia
With little more than three acres of farmland and only two full-time employees working the fields, challenges on the farm can be difficult to solve. Agronomy Coordinator Hugo Antelo Vargas has seen everything when it comes to farming, with 32 years in the field and four at NPH Bolivia. He, alongside his assistant Erland Payares Hurtado, has been working hard to counter the main problem that faces our home’s farm: the rapidly changing weather.
“In our part of Bolivia the weather varies so much every day that it can be challenging to combat,” Hugo explains.” Some days it will rain constantly, and then it will stop and be very dry and hot, putting a strain on our crops.”
This year rainfall levels have been below expectation, which has started to affect our crops’ growth and output. The crop that is hit hardest due to the lack of rain is rice, which needs more water than other crops. While recent weather events have impacted our crops, the situation has yet to affect the home in large scale or more permanent ways.
“We will begin to harvest our crops in April and May. We’re looking to have another successful year of harvest,” Hugo continues. “But we could have done better; the environment and lack of water have hurt us this year.”
With a larger water irrigation project still in the works, unfortunately there is not a lot our home can do to counter these issues right now.
“Sadly, the only thing we can do at the moment is water by hand, but it is difficult with such a large area,” Hugo says. “We can only try our best to protect our crops.”
While the lack of water is impacting crops, our farm animals continue to do well. We currently have 70 cows for milk and meat, our pigs just gave birth to piglets, and we added 5,000 fish to our fishponds.
Inspiringly, throughout the highs and lows of his work on the farm, Hugo understands why the hard work is important and who it ultimately benefits.
“We are here for the kids and to provide them healthy and filling food every day.”
In his four years working at NPH Bolivia, he has realized how unique the community is and how much he enjoys being a part of it. “I really enjoy working with the children, caregivers, volunteers, and my assistant,” he finishes. “Everyone here works very hard and you can see the results of that hard work every day.”