LILIAN GUZMÁN PFEIFFER, CHRISTIAN ULRICHS
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Institute for Horticultural Science, Urban Horticulture, Peru
The main Peruvian city on the Amazon River is Iquitos. Iquitos with its 400,000 inhabitants may be the largest city in the world that cannot be reached by automobile. The city is located on an island surrounded by the Amazon and its tributaries. During wet season the Amazon River can rise as much as 40 feet from its lowest point. When the Amazon reaches its maximum height, the force of the water will cause the tributary rivers to actually flow backwards, causing much of the arable land to flood. Therefore crops can be grown only for a short duration every year, resulting in a shortage of food, especially high value crops for the poorer segment of the urban population. Hydroponics can help to overcome this shortage, enabling small scale farmers and communities to produce crops high in nutrition in spaces unsuitable for conventional agriculture.
In 2003 an national project to develop hydroponic technologies for small scale farmers peri-urban to Iquitos started. Goal of the project was to test and establish different technologies based on locally available materials as well as the promotion of such technologies among different communities. The project was set up as farmer participatory research program. Additionally hydroponics gardens were established in school gardens. The establishment of such technologies in school gardens enables the implementation of technologies and research in the national educational curricular. In farmer field schools the best technologies for production of high value crops are promoted. Socio-economic studies were conducted to study the projects impact to local farmers supplying food to Iquitos and its peri-urbane areas.
Keywords: Farmer field schools, hydroponic, Iquitos, Peru, urban horticulture, vegetable production