02 October 2008

Bolivian butterfly hunting

Goede avond,

I just read an article about quinoa production for a paper that I will write soon and I came across something that I just have to write here because it's late and everyone is in bed or out. So it's an article about how the rising popularity of quinoa ( a pseudo-cereal) in Europe, US, Japan, and Peru has given Bolivian farmers an opportunity but also has lead to extensive land degradation. The rapid rise of production has crowded out pasture and fallow land for lama raising which both alienates the lama herders and greatly reduces the manure available for fertilisation. Farmers don't use fallows anymore; grow quinoa on the plains rather than the mountains which means more pests and thus more pesticides; use heavy machinery which compacts the soil; and the list goes on and on. My point is that at the end of the article the author gave several recommendations and one was to encourage the hunting of butterflies. I was reading this at 22:00 which is my bedtime and the article is in French so naturally I thought twice about hunting butterflies. I looked up chasser, yep to hunt; papillon, butterfly. Now I'm imagining 100 Bolivian quinoa farmers chasing butterflies around their fields with nets and cigarette lighters.
I'm going to bed, Andrew

By the way, the reason that the author recommended hunting butterflies is that they lay the eggs of the most serious caterpillar pests of quinoa and they are the main source of pest dispersion. Each butterfly killed is 100 quinua pests killed and he estimates that the farmers can kill 120,000 butterflies per week, thus 12,000,000 caterpillars. So considering the lower labor cost in Bolivia, it makes sense.

Though, it still sounds hilarious.

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