Quienes SomosMARENASS (Peru)

Roberto Haudry de Soucy, of IFAD, became co-Director of PRODERM (see above) when the first Unu Kamachiq contests were under way (Augosto 1988). Years later, and back in IFAD, he decided to start the design of an innovative project for Peru, using Pachamama Raymi. Through Carlos Gutierrez, he requests Willem van Immerzeel to prepare a first outline (pdf) of a project that would become known as “MARENASS”.

In PRODERM, the training system Pachamama Raymi was still in an experimental phase, its implementation was a bit haphazardous, and short. At the time of designing MARENASS, PAC-II, Bolivia, had the longest and most consistent experience with Pachamama Raymi. It meant that PAC-II could demonstrate that this new tool was capable of generating adoption of innovations in a very short time and by many people. The Bolivian experience could show what the new tool could do for rural development, even under the extremely demanding conditions of the cold, dry, highlands, with widespread erosion and extreme poverty.

The experience and field data generated in PAC-II were needed to be able to show what the impact of Pachamama Raymi could be in hundreds of communities. That was the scale IFAD was willing to try under similar conditions in Peru. With this in mind, Willem van Immerzeel invited the economist Hugo Wiener to evaluate (pdf) the Bolivian experience. See also the interviews (pdf).

FIDA then invited Willem van Immerzeel to prepare the Project Preparation Study and later the Feasibility Study 1(pdf) and 2 (pdf) of what was to become known as MARENASS.

The feasibility study gave the opportunity to improve an important element of the Pachamama Raymi training system: the definition of demanding, but realistic targets of contents, to serve as general orientation for the direction for the innovations to be introduced. In PRODERM, Willem had used WOFOST and it had strengthened him in the idea that computer simulations could be quite useful. This time a much better simulation could be done, required determining the route of economic and ecological recovery and sustainability, which could also express, in economic terms, what adoption of certain innovations would mean for individual families, and a region as a whole. The optimum combination of innovations could thus be determined; “optimum” in terms of economic and ecological recovery and sustainability. This optimum would later called “Framework of Contents”.

Dr. Roberto Quiroz (pdf) (International Potato Center) and the economista (pdf) Dr. Rubén Darío Estrada from CIAT (Colombia) implemented the simulations. Roberto Quiroz later described the importance of simulations for this purpose in an article for the symposium: “Facing the challenge of the Andean Zone: the role of modeling in developing sustainable management of natural resources” (1995).

The computer simulations showed that investments would be extremely profitable, quite unusual in rural development, especially in such marginal areas as the project was intended for. It’s cost/benefit ratio appeared to be so extreme that it appeared to be way beyond any reasonable range. Presenting the findings would affect the credibility of the whole feasibility study. It was thus decided to adjust, scale down, some variables, such as the percentage of people who would adopt the innovations to an extremely low level. During implementation, however, the high profitability of the project was demonstrated under “real life” conditions and amazed everyone. See also: “Rural Communities: the best investment of the State ” (pdf). See also: “The achievements of Puquio" (pdf).).

The extremely high profitability of the Project is due to the fact that a management change of natural resources requires very little investments, and generates great economical (and ecological) benefits. But also, the contribution of the population is extremely high in a Pachamama Raymi project (in labor, materials and even in cash). The contribution of the population in a Pachamama Raymi project is typically around 80 to 90%. The project’s contribution would only be 10 or 20%.

Another team prepared the Ex-Ante study (pdf), incorporating some interesting alternatives. For example, some of the peer learning (mistakenly and confusingly called “Technical Assistance”) is proposed to be managed as a financial fund to be managed and used by the farmer communities to hire their peers, or tehcnical staff, as they wish.

Willem van Immerzeel assisted MARENASS on and off during almost a year to start their program, to prepare the rules and regulations of the contests and other instruments of Pachamama Raymi. MARENASS, however decided to include a number of elements which originated in conventional methodologies. Some years later, the results were evaluated by a “Pachamama Raymi team”. See: Evaluation (pdf). Some drawbacks of the hybrid methodology had surfaced. Other evaluation teams, who had never seen Pachamama Raymi at work, were astonished at what MARENASS had accomplished. For example: Diez claves de éxito para el desarrollo rural (pdf) (presented by Pierre de Zutter).

“The training method used by MARENASS was Pachamama Raymi”…. achieving an very important success: it allowed the transition of at least 20,000 farmer families, from a condition of subsistence and food insecurity, to a condition of farmer-producers for the market.” Executive Summary of the Pre-Terminal (pdf) Evaluation of MARENASS, April 2002.

Pachamama Raymi is considered to be a major innovation for IFAD (See: IFAD report (pdf) , or also (pdf) or in English (pdf). The methodology is being used in a growing number of IFAD projects.