Pieter Romein, an engineer retired from working all of his professional career for Royal Dutch Shell, decided to dedicate himself to working for farmers in Peru. (See: pdf). He therefore created the Dutch Peer Learning Association ("Leren van Elkaar") and established an agreement with the Peruvian NGO Runamaki in Cusco, Peru, and with DEXCEL.
The main activity of “Learning from the Best” is the project with the same name, which started on September 01, 2007. The objective is to eradicate poverty of 2,800 farmer families and their communities. This project is the continuation and expansion of the project started a year earlier by DEXCEL-Peru.
The project uses the methodology Pachamama Raymi, which motivates the people to participate in contests, and to invest in improving their living conditions. It includes peer learning (farmer-to-farmer learning). Representatives of the participating communities travel and visit other farmers already applying a combination of innovations. Participants learn how to improve their production, to increase their income, to improve their houses and even personal hygiene. The innovations are applied and spread to the rest of the population un a rapid sequence of learning and applying, motivated by the contests, prizes in cash, and by the desire to improve. Each contest lasts six months.
The project “Learning from the Best” was enthusiastically received by the population: between 55 and 70% of the families inscribed to participate in the contest. Experience shows that this percentage increases during the course of the project. Experience with the methodology Pachamama Raymi has also shown that innovations spread to the other families, once a majority adopted them.
The project “Learning from the Best” is being implemented with the financial support of each of the local Governments (30% of the budget) the remainder is financed by the Dutch NGO “Learning from the Best”, which is funded by the Commission for International Cooperation and Sustainable Development NCDO (the Netherlands).
The Project “Learning from the Best” is implemented by DEXCEL-Peru in the districts of Ocongate, Challabamba and Caicay, and the NGO implements the project in the district of Acos.
In 2006 DEXCEL-Peru had already started in the twelve communities in the District of Challabamba with its own financing. With the financial impuls of "Leren van Elkaar", the project could continue in Challabamba and expand to two new distrits (Caicay and Ocongate).