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Young Spends Sabbatical in Latin America

October 11, 2010

Linda Young in Bolivia

Associate professor Linda Young spent the 2010 spring semester on sabbatical in Latin America. After an intensive month of training in Spanish, she travelled through Peru, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador talking to family farmers.

Small indigenous producers have been encouraged to export high value agricultural products to the world market by their governments and aid agencies in hopes that this will provide a route out of poverty. Young talked to producers of quinoa, trout, broad beans, passion fruit, broccoli and other crops about exporting to the world market, in an investigation of the nature of the risks they face through reliance on the international market. She found that non-governmental organizations are playing a key role in facilitating high value exports by providing credit and export marketing services to some producers. Other producer groups, like those of habas (broad beans) in an isolated region of Bolivia, are crippled by a lack of knowledge of world markets and have little choice but to sell with international marketing firms, accentuating their perception of risk.

Linda also talked to women weavers in Bolivia who sell through a non-governmental organization guided by both market and social goals, a marketing channel developed for their unique needs.