Saturday, April 2, 2011

Tilling the fields in the Andes

Agriculture in the Andean Mountains certainly has challenges, and one of them is tilling the fields.  Occasionally, one sees a tractor (but rarely), and I assume that the owner has made known that there is a “tractor for hire.”  But a tractor cannot access all the fields that one sees.  A helicopter could access all the fields, but not a tractor, and a tractor simply cannot be used in the slopes on which many of the fields are located (see pics below).

 Part of the answer to the question can be seen with the wooden ox driven plows that we saw displayed at two disparate places (see pics) and we actually captured such a plow in use just outside of Cañar (see pic and videos).  However, the final answer,  I believe, is seen at the local market place.  

The “spades” or “hoes” (not sure what to call them) are what are used to till the soil.   At one time I saw five people working closely together in a row, methodically chopping the soil, each with their “spade”, and thus systematically tilling the soil.  My only thought is: “that is hard work”  (see pics of others tilling the soil.)
Near Saraguro we hiked for nearly an hour on trails that were cliff side and only for one person, but when we arrived at one of the peaks - there was a farmer's hut and a corn field!
Near Alausi we were amazed at the pathwork of fields on steep slopes.
Near Quilotoa we say a smilar patchwork of fields on steep slopes
We started looking for tractors and tillage equipment - they are there - but not many of them
The mural at our bed-and-breakfast in Saraguro caught our attention with this plow
At the same B-and-B they had such a plow mounted on the wall  - Joe inspects.
At the weaver's place in Bulcay - there was a similar plow.
As we approached Cañar we saw farmers with two bullocks and we stopped.  They were plowing.

Julie rejects a $5 hoe at the Cuenca market - Harold agrees.

1 comment:

  1. The Incas were known for their mountain farming, right? Didn't they make a lot of the steep slopes into little platforms?

    Seems to me they should chop off the mountains and flatten everything out... it would be a lot easier to farm, drive, etc!