THE IMPACT of your quinoa purchase

couple quinoa farming

GOOD FOR PEOPLE.
Good for the planet.

Not all quinoa have the same impact on farmers, their lands and the environment.

As a responsible buyer you deserve to know what the impact of your quinoa purchases is.

With Jacha Inti, your quinoa purchases will:

  • Provide living wages to smallholder farmers in the Andes
  • Assure that the production of quinoa is sustainable
  • Have a neutral impact on the environment

LIVING Wages

A traditional FAMILY FARM

Family Farms in region who rely on quinoa as main source of income: 6,000 (>36,000 people)

Average members per farm: 6

Main Source of Income: Quinoa, llama herding

Experience: 3,000+ years of farming heritage

The incomes of smallholder farmers in the Southern Altiplano of Bolivia rely heavily on quinoa. On average a family farm produces on 10 hectares per year.  Average yields for are 460 kilos per hectare. Production costs per hectare are $291 (without any fertilizers). This farmer relies on middle-men and the open farmers markets to move their product at an average sales price of $1.03 per kilo.  This means that their expected net income per year is $1,838 or $153 per month- if they can find a market for all of their product.

traditional family farm
This farm makes $153 per month- if they can find a market for all of their product.

Compare this to a farmer in JACHA INTI’S Supplier Program

Number of Associations: 19

Acreage: 19,769 acres (8,000 Hecs)

Cultivated Area: 15-50 acres/farm

Total Family Farms: 169  (>1,000 people)

Regenerative and Fair Trade Certified Program: 16% of total volume, increasing based on demand.

A family farm on Jacha Inti’s Regenerative Program has average yields 50% higher than the average, at 690 kilos per hectare. This higher yield comes with higher production costs, mainly organic fertilizers and compost, at $433 per hectare.

These families sell their production to Jacha Inti at an average sales price of $1.19/kilo. This means that their expected net income per year is $3,871 or $322 per month- and they are guaranteed a market for 100% of their production.

If your purchases are Fair Trade Certified, then the farmers are guaranteed a minimum price plus an additional premium over market. In 2022 this was $1.41 per Kilo. This means that a farmer selling their production via the Fair Trade channel would perceive an equivalent of 5,382 per year or $448 per month- a 39% increase in income!

The Rodriguez family farm makes over $322 per month and is guaranteed a market for 100% of their production

JACHA INTI sources from 169 farms with a total of 8,000 hectares in the Southern Altiplano

jacha inti source map

Jacha Inti sources from 169 farms with a total of 8,000 hectares, but with plots as small as 1 hectare, distributed throughout the Southern Altiplano. Each Farm is plotted by GPS and their product tracked through the supply chain.

Can the payments to the farmers be verified?

Yes, as part of our processes we have available invoices and receipts for every quinoa purchase made to the farmers. This is an essential part of the product’s traceability and also an essential part of the Fair Trade Certification process.

What do farmers use the Fair Trade premiums for?

Farmers are organized as associations or cooperatives. They have a governance system where they vote as a group to decide on how to spend the premiums. Usually premiums are spent on common goods, such as a community store-house, a well or threshing equipment. Part of the Fair Trade Standards require that 20% of the premium be reinvested in sustainable production activities- for example making compost for use by the community or planting hedges to protect against wind erosion.

Are you audited by a third party?

Yes, product we sell as Organic, Regenerative and Fair Trade is audited and certified by a third-party. Note that not all our product is certified organic, Fair Trade or Regenerative and not all farmers participate in those programs. Farmer participation is based on demand and farmer’s willingness to abide by the certifier’s standards.

Can we see the math for all the farmer income calculations?

Yes! Pease contact us and we will email you our calculation sheet.

SUSTAINABLE Production

Quick overview of quinoa production in the high Andes

bolivia map

The Southern Altiplano is a difficult environment for agriculture:

Altitude: 3,600 m (12,000 feet). Above tree-line

Irrigation: Only natural rainfall, 150mm/year

Agricultural activities: Llama and sheep herding, quinoa production. Quinoa is the only viable commercial crop.

Over 4,000 years quinoa has adapted adapted to impoverished/marginal soils

Crop Rotation: One crop every 2 years. Natural shrubs during fallow year.

Soil: Saline with 0.4% organic matter (healthy soils have 3% organic matter).

quinoa field
changes in quinoa production

Market demand and climate change have  changed how quinoa is produced today

Traditional cultivation methods have largely been abandoned and replaced with tractor tilling, synthetic and organic inputs and pesticides.

A looming risk: Desertification

Land in the Southern Altiplano is fragile and has a low level of organic matter. Disk tilling, removal of native shrubs, reduction of llama herds (main source of fertilizer) and high winds are degrading land at a fast pace:

20% of the available land is degraded and 20% more will degrade by 2027.

This puts at risk the livelihoods of the 6,000 family farms still surviving in the region.

desertification in bolivia

Solution: REGENERATIVE FARMING

Watch you 5 minute highlighting out Regenerative Farming initiative in the Bolivian highlands!

Our field team and quinoa farmers started out a 3-year long project to combat soil erosion in 2018.  The project cost $373,000 and achieved 315 demonstrative farms.  All tested compost made with quinoa husks (otherwise sent to landfill) and llama dung.  57 farms tested various cover crops- from native lupine to varieties of barley.  88 farms set up wind-breaker sites with native shrubs (“thola”).

The findings pointed to :
– An increase of 20% in the soils organic matter
– Discovery of cover crops which help preserve top soil, provide food for llamas and capture 4 to 5.6 tons of green matter (to be converted to carbon capture) per year
– 52% higher yields in production

On the path to REGENERATIVE ORGANIC CERTIFIED (ROC) quinoa farming

The table below describes the main principles and related goals and activities that are on the path to obtaining the highest level in organic regenerative certification. It will take until 2026 but this is a path that we started on in 2018 and plan to continue on for years to come.

How Much of your production is ROC (Regenerative Organic) Certified?

About 16%. In 2023we launched the program with 1,900 Metric Tons of ROC Certified quinoa from 2,500 hectares .

Is ROC be competitively priced versus organic?

Yes. The cost of the ROC quinoa is only 3.5% over organic market. Of this, 1% goes to the certifier and 2.5% goes to finance ongoing regenerative practices at the field level.

Meet Some of Your FARMERS

(We’re working on this section! Getting some fresh photos as we speak)

Eudocia & Eloy’s Family Farm

Hailing from Caluyo and Cotuma, Eudocia Aguilar Aguilar and Eloy Salas Juchazara embody resilience and dedication. Eudocia is a part of the Indigenous Autonomous Government of Salinas-Oruro, while Eloy is from the Tomabe Potosí municipality. Together, they are pivotal members of the Productores de Quinua Orgánica Caluyo (PROQUIORC).

With their two school-going children, they manage 333 hectares of quinoa farms, navigating challenges like unexpected frosts and droughts. Yet, their passion for quinoa farming remains undiminished, it being their primary source of income.

They own around 450 llamas, using their manure to enrich their soil, reflecting their commitment to organic farming and sustainable practices. For Eudocia and Eloy, quinoa farming is more than an occupation—it’s their future, reflecting the sustainable ethos of Jacha Inti.

The Martinez Farm

Hernan Martinez,  his wife Rosa and their baby (in the “Aguayo” pouch on her back).  Community: Tusqui (near Uyuni), Potosí. Members of the APAQUICTL #quinoa grower association. 

in 2020 this young family was granted by their community 21.76 hectares of land to start farming. They will harvest 9.28 hectares as the other half is resting (in this highland desert plateau quinoa is produced at most once every other year on the same plot.) At the current market prices, the sale of their organic quinoa provides them around $300 per month.  With Jacha Inti’s clients guaranteeing a market for all of their quinoa, the Martinez are eager to increase their acreage and make quinoa their main occupation.  In the meantime, Hernán supplements their family income providing transportation services with his nini-bus. “But this (quinoa) here is our strength. We will grow more, and better, and one day have a small harvester.” 

The Perez Farm

the perez farm