Peanut was domesticated in the Andes of southern Bolivia and northern Argentina. As the result of thousands of years of farmers’ breeding and stewardship, Bolivia has the greatest peanut biodiversity in the world. Some of Bolivia’s peanut varieties are very special and can command high prices on the world market, particularly if they are organically grown. Accessing these markets for organic native peanut can provide income to smallholder farmers who otherwise face severe poverty. Mycotoxins, toxic products of molds that often grow on peanuts and other crops, are an obstacle to accessing these markets. The most important mycotoxins for peanut is aflatoxin, which is the most potent known natural carcinogen and which has many other negative health impacts. This is a problem for Bolivian peanut farmers and consumers, as well as for farmers in other parts of the world. Careful management and surveillance can overcome this market barrier and public health menace.Since 2010, the CCRP has enabled Fundación Valles to promote the improvement in living conditions of vulnerable populations who grow peanuts in diverse agroecological systems in the Bolivian inter-Andean valleys of Chuquisaca, Cochabamba and Potosi. Project thrusts included strengthening of the peanut value chain through sustainable access to domestic and foreign markets, participatory research for technology generation and transfer, and services and systems development for aflatoxin management. The project team gathered and analyzed data on aflatoxin levels in peanuts and corn in three municipalities. In addition, they monitored agricultural systems trends associated with peanuts, to avert a possible shift toward peanut monocropping due to market pressure. The project reinforced institutional, technological and market mechanisms of growers’ organizations so they could participate competitively in the safe production and sustainable commercialization of organic peanuts in domestic and export markets. Currently, five organizations with over 500 peanut growers have successfully entered the market, and one organization (APROMAM SRL) was incorporated to negotiate with a peanut importer on their behalf. Over 160 tons of organic peanuts have been exported since 2009, at a price of $379,000.In this phase, the project team will determine how to expand its successes in the first two phases through safe production in diverse agricultural systems and sustainable access to domestic and export markets for native and certified organic peanuts. They will further research the role of mycotoxins in the peanut cropping system, investigate and develop opportunities in domestic and local markets and innovate and learn with farmer organizations on how to become more sustainable and independent. The project will use research findings to influence decision makers at the local, departmental and national government levels. It will reach 37 communities in five municipalities and double the organic peanut export volumes to 120 tons, as well as increase the current number of farmers involved.
The project will improve livelihoods and food security of 1,000 small growers, promoting the conservation and sustainable use of native agro biodiversity, scaling up knowledge in the prevention of aflatoxins and mycotoxins in peanuts and corn, promoting sustainable access to local and export market systems and promoting research findings that can inform decision makers at the local, departmental and national government levels.Rural families in the municipalities covered by the project will have the ability to prevent and control of aflatoxins in peanuts.Grower organizations will have stronger capacities in business management, organic farming and skills in mycotoxin management, resolution of bottlenecks that limit their competitiveness and development or expansion of peanut markets. Use of the online tracking system will make it possible to identify critical peanut aflatoxin public health concerns in real time.The Bolivian agro industrial sector will have a reference laboratory for certification of origin of a product free of aflatoxins.
Outputs and Outcomes:
The project works with three growers’ cooperatives. Two of them have expanded their client list in the past year. All three have increased the amount of primary material produced by 25%, 50% and 100% and two of them have increased sales by 20-25%. One of them has had steadily increasing prices on the domestic market over the past 3 years and had a 10% increase in export price. The second has maintained stable prices that are 27% over the domestic price in their exports, and the third has restructured domestic market sales to have 20% utility and export sales do not generate utility.An on-going study of 192 farms, using their organic certification records, to monitor overall production and rotation diversity show that for that from 2008-2014 100% of the parcels have had at least 4 types of crops and the prevailing cropping system continues to be groundnut-maize. There are no signs of mono-cropping groundnut in response to increased market demand.Scaling: One of the project partners, the San Simon University (UMSS), has invested over $250,000 in the acquisition of modern High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) equipment, exclusively for the implementation of aflatoxin analysis services to Bolivian agroindustry. They have also dedicated senior staff to the aflatoxin studies in the project. The relationship with UMSS has been extended to The Chagas Department of the Biology Department, which is collaborating with their experts in the ELISA method.A total of 156 urine samples (random sampling of communities where the project works, non-random sampling of households) were taken across municipalities where the project works, of which 1.28% presented non-detectable concentrations of AFM1, and 98.72% presented detectable concentrations in the range of (0.0≥[AFM1]<1.105 ng/ml). No differences were found, neither in the food consumption profile among families, nor in the association with food consumption and AFM1 concentration in urine. The frequency of the positive samples suggests exposure of the studied populations to aflatoxins, 35% are within permissible levels by the Bolivian government <20 ppm, but the rest are over.Bolivia exports 93% of its peanut production. In the period between 2009-2014 there has been 201% increase in peanut exports in Bolivia, almost all of that goes to Peru (93%) with an average price of $1000/ T the other 7% goes to mostly Europe with an average price of $2400/T — the local market pays around $1600/T. Between 2008-2009 there was a large fall in both the Peruvian and national peanut price, and since then there was a recovery of the national price in 2011 followed by a decrease and slight upturn in 2014, while the Peruvian price has stayed low and the European price has steadily increased since that market first opened in 2009. One reason for the maintenance of the Peruvian market despite its low prices is that it accepts almost all peanut quality, while the European market is much more stringent, including in the aflatoxin level requirements.Between 2009-2014 there has been a 5% increase in the area of peanut production and a 59% increase in production, the global percentages for area and productivity during the same time were 18% and 36%, showing that Bolivia has very impressive productivity increase numbers, although it’s actual productivity (1.53 t/Ha) is still below the global average (1.78 t/ ha.In the national market value chain the peanut growers receive a net profit of 110 Bs/ quintal, the wholesale buyer is 47, the toaster is 94 and the retailer 163. It is necessary to keep in mind that the return on capital for the farmer is 8 months and for the others in the chain between 7-20 days.The main project partner 2nd level Farmer Association in Bolivia, APROMAM (it represents 3 smaller organizations), went from exporting 18 T in 2012 and selling 1 ton on the domestic market, to exporting 36 T in 2015 and selling 20 T in a domestic market — specifically a direct contract with one province to supply its school feeding program of processed products. Thus both of these markets are niche and “short circuit” and recognize the advantage of a diversified markets, where in different sub-organizations (contexts), different associations prefer different markets (options), including just the individual farmers selling directly to intermediaries. The project is recognizing the potential of rising niche domestic demand.2933 farmers have been trained in the aflatoxin prevention in groundnut methodology (SIPCA) as well as Agroecologic production and 1176 in the mycotoxin (fusarium) in maize prevention (SIPCMMA). Results of different populations suggest that this has led to a decrease in aflatoxins in both home consumption and export (from 14% over the maximum limit in 2014 to 1% in 2016) and low levels of fusarium in maize in 3 municipalities but not in another 2. However. this study was not done rigorously with the same population so other factors might be at play in these levels and the levels might not be representative and are also averaged.Peanut farmers in Bolivia involved in this project report losses averaging 40% but ranging to 80% due to inadequate drying, which also leads to higher levels of alfatoxins. An elevated drying system with a plastic tent showed in 6 farmers’ fields improved % of dried groundnut by an average of 10%. Reasons why this type of dryer is not used more widely might include lack of transportability to fields and cost of plastic, those questions were not explored in the study.