Thursday, December 27, 2007

Paracti, Cochabamba: Latitude (DMS): 17° 13' 0 S, Longitude (DMS): 65° 49' 0 W

Paracti is located in the Department of Cochabamba, la Provincia Chapare, Bolivia, approximately 80 km from Cochabamba on the highway to Santa Cruz.

The name Paracti is Quechua for "rainy place" (para being "rain"). The town is located at an elevation that allows it to receive considerable rainfall ("la ceja del monte"). As hot, humid air rises and moves west from the eastern tropical lowlands of Bolivia and Brasil, it condenses and dumps its water on this eastern facing slope of the mountains. It rains virtually every day, creating a lush, insanely green landscape.

Last week I visited Paracti and a small working farm there with a colleague and friend, Christopher Salvagio. The farm is owned by a man named Rafael Musch, a Cochabambino of German descent. On 3 hectares (7.5 acres) he has seven greenhouses dedicated to flower and plant production--lillies, ferns, etc.--which he sells to vendors in Cochabamba. He has another 3 hectares that he has left recovering from previous use. It is wild and absolutely gorgeous.
In the high valleys of Bolivia and even in this hotter and more humid part of Cochabamba, trout farming is common among local producers. Trout is a fish that requires clear, cold water. The water must be moved constantly in order to oxigenate it adequately. As a result, it is a comparatively costly species to produce. The work required to provide for a regular flow of water either means having a pump on hand or constructing a system to take advantage of the natural flow of the water from higher elevation (as in this case). Still, the complicated nature of the water monitoring and treatment and the delicate nature of the fish are worth it because trout typically receives somewhere between 30 and 35 bolivianos per kilo ($3.80 to $4.50, approx.).

Don Rafael has four small ponds and one large laguna for the production of his trout. Three of the ponds are constructed side by side and house trout of different sizes. Water moves down from the higher parts of the mountain and constantly flows through the system of tanks. His desire to increase production of trout on his property and to start producing freshwater shrimp and crab. Yes, that's right. Freshwater shrimp and crab. Just awesome.

No comments: