Natural Dyes & Textiles Project
- Department: Cusco
- Province: Paucartambo
- District: Paucartambo
- Community: Quico – Q’eros Nation
- Beneficiaries: Association of Artesan Weavers Inka Pallay de Quico – Q’eros Nation (20 members)
- Association of Artesan Weavers Apu Ñañantiyoq de Quico – Q’eros Nation (37 members)
The project is based in a rural community in Quico, which stands at an altitude of 4120 meters above sea level. Through their work with Amazon Conservation Association (ACA) the project hopes to improve all aspects of the weaving process in the area by making it more environmentally sustainable and more profitable for those community members selling the products. Essentially, the project hopes to improve all aspects of the weaving process in the area by making it more environmentally sustainable and more profitable for those community members selling the products. This will be done by putting a focus on the management and conservation of certain plant species used to create dyes, which will in turn improve the quality of the traditional weavers’ work. Managing and conserving key plant species will provide a means for the sustainable use of the natural resources in their environment.
Another important aspect of this project is generating additional income for the weavers and the community, based on better organization and coordination with the markets and the various stages of the chain of production. This project will also focus on programs to train community members in the spinning, dying, and weaving of fabric. These training programs will be based out of a marketing center Awankancha), through which the weavers will be able to improve their skills as well as remain in permanent contact with other expert weavers and potential buyers. The training program will run in 10 day segments, taking on 10 members of the Association of Artisan Weavers Inka Pallay de Quico – Q’eros Nation for each session.
Improvements have already been seen in the capacities of plant life management, in the processes of dying alpaca and sheep wool, in the quality of the textiles produced, and in communication and coordination between the weavers and local markets in Cusco.
Description of the Beneficiary Community – CC. Quico
The community has a population of 58 families, or 350 inhabitants. Seventy percent of the population is 30 or younger and has an incomplete elementary education. The rest of the population has no education at all and remains illiterate.
The average family owns between 10 and 12 farms, each 1 to 0.5 hectares in size, varying according to the labor capabilities of the family. The plots of land are generally spread out, and usually only 5 or 6 of these farms are actually productive at any given time. Fields must lie fallow for a period of 8 years, starting every 6 years. Fifty percent of the families who practice this receive a 50% tax break at S/. 100.
The llama is the principal pack animal, transporting all agricultural products from the highlands to the Ceja de Selva region (Ceja de Selva is a local name that refers to the forests in the eastern Andes at altitudes of between 800-2,500 m.). Additionally, llama meat is used as food; their fur is used to make rope and blankets; their bones are used as tools for the weavers. Their monetary value is about S/.115, but an average small town in this area sells only 1 or 2 items each year and these small sales are often used in exchange for other products. On average, each of these small towns makes 3 pounds of fabric each year, which is sold at S/. 4.00 (US $1.30) nuevos soles per pound. This raw material can also be used to make the artisan crafts that are sold in commercial establishments in Cusco, Peru.
Sheep are also very common in Quico; the average family owns 20 sheep, making the average price fall between S/ 40.00 and 60.00 nuevos soles (about US$15-20) per sheep. This animal is used primarily for the meat and wool. Shearing is done in November, and each sheep produces about 2 kg of wool, which as a sold at about S/ 3.00 or 4.00 nuevos soles (US$1-$1.50) depending on where it is sold. Sheep feces, as well as llama feces, is also a valuable resource. It is used as a form of natural fertilizer and as a source of energy in the cooking process. Herding is done throughout the year; often children take on this important role of tending to the sheep.
The vicuña is another animal found in this area; however, these animals are found only in the wild. They live in groups of 8 or so in the high altitude areas of the community. For the local populations, Vincuña are considered animals of the mountain spirits.
Textile production is the principle occupation of community members (91.7%). Although in reality these tasks are carried out by all family members, it is the men who entrusted with the task of spinning the pushkar and making sure that the younger generation is trained in this area. Principle products are: carpets, wall hangings, table runners, bags, ponchos, belts, scarves/table runners, hats, rope, bracelets, and blankets. Items that are produced are used first to clothe the people of the town. Commercialization has led artisan weavers to send their finished products off establishments in Cusco to be sold.
Sale proceeds, whatever they may be, go back to the family and are considered an emergency source of funds to be used whenever an immediate need for funds exists.
About The Amazon Conservation Association
The Amazon Conservation Association (ACA) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that is active in Peru and Bolivia. Our directors and staff are experienced ecologists and conservationists. We work to protect biodiversity by studying ecosystems and developing innovative conservation tools to protect land in the region while supporting the livelihoods of local communities. To learn more about ACA visit their website at www.amazonconservation.org.