Nunoa Project’s Peruvian Work

Nunoa Project    
Photo: Courtesy of Nunoa Project 
Photo Caption: Student volunteers Laura Pepin, Brittany Lister, and Vanessa Silvia evaluate a breeding male with Dr. Purdy. 

Nunoa Project Veterinary Goals in Peru:
~ Veterinary assistance to farmers to improve production through herd evaluations and education
~ Expose students and veterinarians to the challenges and rewards of working in international agriculture
~ Make a positive difference in the lives of Peruvian farm families and veterinary students and veterinarians

Nunoa Project History in Peru:
~ 11 years of twice annual veterinary team visits
~ Three, 3 month veterinary team placements in the Andes
~ Veterinary teams work directly with alpaca and llama farmers solving problems presented to us
~ Management and reproduction advice and training seminars
~ Approximately 100 student and veterinarian volunteers from the US, Peru, Argentina, Canada, New Zealand, the
UK, and Germany have participated and been trained.

Our most recent trip:
In July of 2017 I traveled with a nine member group of pre-veterinary and veterinary students and a Peruvian veterinarian to remote areas of Peru. The mission was to evaluate herds of local llama and alpaca farmers and identify changes that would improve their production. The people of the altiplano rely on camelids to survive and even small improvements in the health and fertility of their herds have the potential to be a huge benefit to these rural families.

Llama Work in Huacahuasi, Department of Cusco
The July 2017 trip included work with 10 llama farmers in Huacahuasi, about 3 hours’ drive into the mountains from Urubamba, near Cusco. The scenery there is beautiful and the community is along the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu so on occasion the team saw groups of tourists with pack horses and mules carrying their gear.

The team was working with the Llama Pack Project from Urubamba to make initial veterinary contacts with farmers located along the Inca Trail. The overall goal of their project is to assist the farm families to increase their income by using their llamas for packing with a secondary goal of generating income by providing meals to travelers and/or selling their beautiful hand woven crafts and clothing. Packing was the traditional use for llamas in the Andes but they have been replaced over time by packing companies using equines. Equines have been very destructive to the trails used by the local people for travel and have also contaminated the land and water with feces and urine as they work. The environmental impact of llamas is much less due to their more discrete defecation and urination habits.

The llama herd evaluations included looking at animal stature and body condition in regard to suitability for packing and overall nutritional status. In addition, ultrasound pregnancy exams were performed on llamas and alpacas to assess the efficacy of the breeding management plans of individual farmers; overall fertility results were good.

Nunoa Project will continue to work with the Llama Pack Project to get more families to join this project, with 5 new families added during the July 2017 visit. The farmers overall were very interested in getting their llamas into productive work. Some farmers were a bit shy about working with the team but this is common in the Andes and these were all new herds. We will be visiting additional farmers in another community later this month.

Alpaca Work in Pucara, Lampa & Picotani, Department of Puno
The Nunoa Project has been working for three years with farmers in the Pucara/Lampa area and this year added a new location, Picotani, located further north and east in the Department of Puno. In Picotani we partnered with the US nonprofit, Quechua Benefit, which has many humanitarian projects in Peru.

The eight Pucara and Lampa herds which were evaluated varied in animal quality and nutritional and reproductive status as in past years. Most were very good but some could use better nutrition. This is difficult in July because it is cold and dry with poor pasture until rainy season starts in November. At one location in Pucara, Mario Idme and his wife Bonita Gomez had the highest pregnancy rate I have ever seen in Peru (or the US for that matter) in their small herd at 96%. The farmers continue to improve their herds and they are increasingly aware of changes they can make to improve production as a result of our work.

Pucara and Lampa Summary:
1. Body condition scores of animals were low in some locations and it was suggested that animals get more access to pasture and water.
2. Pregnancy rates were what is normally seen for most farmers in the altiplano at 70 to 80%. One farmer achieved a 96% rate with an uncomplicated breeding management program. He will teach this program to other farmers in the area.
3. Three farmers were interested in having Nunoa Project help them to select new breeding males in December 2017 during the next work trip. It is planned for this December.
4. Enterotoxemia was not a major concern in the area in the earlier 2017 birthing season.
5. Further training on reproduction record keeping to identify fertility of females and males would be useful for
farmers who wish to employ it.
6. Cria mortality rates were normal for the altiplano, usually at approximately 10%.
7. Training on breeding behavior of breeding males and females might be of use to some farmers.
8. Most farmers are very enthusiastic about continuing to work to improve their herds.

The alpaca work in Picotani was Nunoa Project’s first visit to the area. Over three days we visited three different parts of the region: Toma, Cambria, and Picotani proper. The team worked with 7 alpaca herds total. The people in this area have had no veterinary assistance for at least 8 years. The most common problems included lack of sufficient water and pasture resulting in poor body condition, and low pregnancy rate in one herd. The last herd we evaluated was doing very well, with top quality fiber animals in good condition. The herd of vicuna which Picotani has stewardship over numbers at approximately 10,000 animals. You can see their small groups as you drive along the road to visit the farmers’ alpaca herds.

The people in Picotani are very anxious to have help with alpaca herd improvement and there is quite a lot which can be done for them. Our team could have worked with other farmers had the time not been limited and we are certainly are interested in going back there in the future if asked. As in other areas of the altiplano the basis for Nunoa Project’s work is animal evaluation, problem solving, and education. We also learn from the Peruvian farmers on every visit.

Picotani Summary:
1. Low body condition scores were common in multiple herds. This is indicative of a nutritional (pasture and/or water) or genetic problem.
2. The area has a water problem which needs to be addressed. Options to consider would be drilling wells and/or using some type of water reservoirs to collect rain water.
3. Farmers want their herds evaluated- several were turned down due to time and distance constraints.
4. Training is needed in these areas: (1) body condition score evaluation, (2) breeding management, including
evaluation of breeding males; and (3) adult and cria health and alpaca diseases- all farmers could receive a
Nunoa Project disease picture book for reference.
5. Enterotoxemia vaccination could reduce or eliminate cria mortality on farms where there is a problem. The
farmers need a training program for this and consistent guidance from outside experts to get it started and
keep it going correctly.
6. Nunoa Project personnel are experienced working in the altiplano and can continue to evaluate herds, identify
problems of individual breeders, and work to solve those problems.
7. Nunoa Project can also provide the needed training with seminars, hands on demonstrations, and written
materials. The training and animal evaluations should eventually be turned over to local community technicians.

Review of the Peruvian Work
We are very enthusiastic about the positive changes we have made, the new farmers we have met and what we can do in the future. I am always saddened when the Nunoa Project volunteers go their separate ways but also feel that I have made another set of lifelong friends who have experienced the challenges and rewards of working in the Peruvian altiplano. Many thanks to the veterinary and pre-veterinary students who participated on this and previous trips and to my Peruvian veterinary colleague, Gerardo Diaz, whose input is critical to the success of the Nunoa Project’s work. It is a pleasure to be able to work with these volunteers and the Peruvian people.
During the November-December trip in 2 weeks we will again work with llama farmers in the Sacred Valley and also alpaca farmers in Pucara and Lampa. We will also be working with some new alpaca farming communities about an hour to the north. We will hold a breeding male selection training workshop for several Pucara and Lampa farmers. This was requested by them and is a direct result of our emphasis on improving production in their herds. Three farmers have stepped up as obvious leaders in the communities and will be helping other farmers in the future. Our work is paying off.

Learn more about Nunoa Project here.

Once again, Arequipa will become the capital of the most important alpaca festival in the World

Alpaca Fiesta
By: Alpaca Fiesta

•    This is the ALPACA FIESTA 2018, an event that takes place every four years in the city of Arequipa

•    Hosted by the International Association of Alpaca and PromPerú

•    The official launch took place on the 26th October, one year before it’s publication.

Arequipa, October 2017.- Once again, as it happens every four years, the Alpaca International Association - AIA - will make Arequipa the capital of the ALPACA FIESTA 2018, the most important and largest alpaca festival in the world, an event that brings together breeders, researchers, companies and institutions linked to the fascinating business of one of the most beautiful and representative South American camelids of our country.

Raúl Rivera, president of ALPACA FIESTA 2018, at the ceremony of the official launch of the renowned festival, announced that this will become a reality, thanks to the support of the alpaca industry and its alliance with PROMPERÚ and the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism (MINCETUR).

ALPACA FIESTA 2018, also represents the establishment of activities that show the entire value chain of the alpaca, starting from the rearing stages and going through the industrial transformation, to fashion and retail, revealed, very excited, Raúl Rivera, at the time of pointing out that each edition is different from the previous one, emphasizing the permanent renewal of competitions, exhibitions and business opportunities, he also announced that the event has four programs: Breeding, Commercial, Academic & Fashion; being the innovations for this edition: the International Contest of the Alpaca: Young Designers to the World; the International Fleeces Competition; International Shearing Competition, Award for Best Genetic Improvement Practices, among others.

For his part Luis Torres, Director of Exports of Promperú, stated that ALPACA FIESTA 2018 is a powerful tool for the promotion of alpaca in the world and that it is expected to generate a commercial movement of 20 million dollars. The Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism Eduardo Ferreyros küppers, through a video that was broadcasted at the ceremony, showed that the new edition of Alpaca Fiesta 2018, will have a renewed format that will consolidate it as the largest international platform for trade and services of our flag product: the alpaca".

ALPACA FIESTA 2018 takes place every four years, the sixth edition announced by the organizers will take place from the 22nd to the 27th of October next year, for which it has, in addition to the PROMPERU competition, from the announced ministries and regional and local authorities.

The value chain of the alpaca, involves more than 1.5 million people that work in the textile chain Alpaquera 1. Peru stands out as the leading producer of their fibre in the world, by concentrating 80% of the world’s population and 95% of its industrial processing.

The President of ALPACA FIESTA 2018, is grateful for the participation in the runway of: Capricce & Internazionale Alpaca S.R.L., Cite Arequipa, Colca Fabrics S.A.C., Kero Design S.A.C., NYM’S, SILKEBORG PERU S.A.C., Textilan, Anntarah Perú S.A.C., Kuna, Incalpaca TPX S.A.C., SOL ALPACA, MFH Knits S.A.C., as well as the support of Hotel Katari, Pisco Centenario Nájar, Picantería Los Leños, Kola Escocesa, Cevecería Melkim, La Ibérica, Montalvo SPA y Queso Helados Charito.

We look forward to receiving in ALPACA FIESTA 2018 breeders, buyers, exhibitors and visitors from more than 15 countries, who will interact with the best producers of Peruvian alpacas, SME exporters, researchers and other actors in the value chain. For more information we invite you to visit or write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

•    1.5 million people are employed in a direct or indirect way at the textile chain alpaquera. (MINAGRI, 2016)
•    Entire exports of Alpaca 2016: US$ 131 Million (Promperú, 2017).
•    Increase of exports of 14.5 % in period January-June 2017, compared with the same period 2016 (Promperú, 2017).
•    The alpaca fibre is provided with 22 natural tones (AIA, 2017)

Learn more about Alpaca Fiesta here.     

Graduating Class of 2017

Photo: Courtesy of Awamaki

This month, an important piece of our vision for the future actually happened. How often can you say that!?

For three years we have been telling you about our goal of graduating our cooperatives as independent businesses, and we developed the Awamaki Impact Model as a way to encourage the women to make improvements in their businesses and to take initiative in their work. Our vision is that through our program, they will not only earn an income but also learn to run successful businesses beyond our guidance. When we made the goal to graduate our partner cooperatives as independent businesses, we weren’t even sure that it would be possible.

Well, as it turns out: it is! Earlier this September we graduated our first cooperative of hardworking women. “One of the goals of Awamaki is that our groups can be self-motivated, that they are groups with the capacity to manage themselves,” Mercedes Durand, head of our Women’s Cooperative Program, beamed during the recent graduation ceremony for our Rumira Women’s Cooperative. The Rumira knitters show that this is possible.

Located just down the valley from Ollantaytambo, Rumira is home to 24 motivated women. With your generous help, we have been providing business and knitting trainings for four years, including helping them build an artisan center. Once they had their own space, they gained a home for their floor looms, and landed several orders from the local train company for placemats for their tourist train. We also connected them to a store in Cusco, for whom they knit sweaters, and they are currently making samples for a third potential client. In total to date, the women have earned over $20,000 in nearly 25 orders from clients of their own. In this group, 42% of the women have only had access to either primary schooling or in some cases, no schooling at all. “We have learned from the difficulties… Now we can continue fighting and continue working to make things better, and continue achieving our goals,” Martha Zuniga, Awamaki production coordinator and Rumira cooperative member, exclaimed during the ceremony. For Martha the Rumira graduation signified an “important passing for all of the women, they will be able to continue to develop as businesswomen.” Graduation marks this group transitioning from a loosely organized group of women to a professional and highly successful artisan cooperative. This is something we couldn’t be more proud of accomplishing!

This group of women has transformed significantly over the past four years. “At first they didn’t know how to knit professionally, and secondly they didn’t know how to interpret the patterns, they didn’t have good communication, and they weren’t organized, Martha commented. With your support the artisans  have been trained in women’s empowerment, weaving and knitting techniques, quality control standards, fashion, marketing, exportation, tax brackets, and even computer classes. “First of all, they know how to interpret the patterns, and they can create samples without my help, and they organize for whichever activity they have,” added Martha, of the changes she’s seen take place among the women. They also keep track of their orders from other clients, bill those clients and manage artisan payments for them. After four years of working with Awamaki, nearly 46% of the women are earning as much or more than their partners. With the money they make, they support 70 children and disabled or elderly adults in their homes.

Rumira’s graduation gives us the capacity to begin working with new cooperatives and allows us to direct our energy into empowering even more women from the Sacred Valley. This year we have added a new group of spinners and knitters both in the community of Huilloc, something that we wouldn’t have the capacity to do without the anticipation of Rumira’s graduation. This recent expansion brings the total number of artisans in our partner cooperatives to 168 women. Thanks to the support of all of our donors we are able to continue our work everyday towards more graduation ceremonies like Rumira’s and continuing to grow and expand the communities with which we work!

Learn more about Awamaki here.

Nuñoa Project Peru | Student Experiences

Nuñoa Project
By: Stephanie Skinner
Photo: Courtesy of Nuñoa Project
Photo Caption: Stephanie Skinner describes her experience with the project in July 2017.

I have been to Peru before, but never this part of Peru. It was beautiful up in the mountains, and an amazing opportunity to work closely and directly with those we were trying to help.

I first became interested in alpacas as undergraduate student doing research with them, but it wasn’t till I arrived in vet school that I heard about the Nuñoa Project. The thought of travelling to Peru to work with camelids was an exciting one, and I was delighted to be able to make that trip happen finally in my 4th year.

It was a totally unique chance to work with alpacas in their native environment, and get a sense of what it is like to work directly with the farmers and herders of the region. It was especially gratifying to see what long years of work has actually done. Some of the farms we visited had implemented really high standards of management and care, and it made an obvious difference in the health of those herds.

I also saw the other side of the equation, as we were going into a couple of communities that were new to the project and still unsure of its utility. Sharing the experience with other vet and pre-vet students made walking up mountains at 13000 feet an adventure, and there was never a shortage of work to be shared. I recommend going on this trip to everyone I know with even a passing interest in camelids because of how much I was able to do and learn and be involved in.

Nuñoa Project veterinary teams led by Dr. Steve Purdy and assisted by Dr. Gerardo Diaz of Lima Peru work with 5 to 7 student and veterinary volunteers twice yearly in Peru.  Nunoa Project has been performing this service to assist farmers for 10 years. Help them raise funds for the next trip here.

Learn more about Nuñoa Project here.