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Volunteer in Peru 2019-01-24T13:17:52+00:00

Volunteer with us

We have opportunities to join us as part of a once in a lifetime cultural and social exchange experience in Junin, Peru on top of the Andes (4000m); work on our maca farm during the harvest, hike to the top of Huaytapallana (5000m), practice or learn Spanish, immerse yourself in the Incan culture, join the harvest festivities, learn about how your food is sourced and engage with the local community through our social responsibility program. Assist with running educational and social programs to help improve the quality of life for our community and discover the amazing rich culture and history behind the people that produce your food. Live and breath the simple farming lifestyle that has been part of the Incan civilisation for centuries. Sound like your cup of tea? Then grab some of our maca, watch our video, click our link and sign up via our Facebook page. See you in Peru!!

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I am interested in Volunteering

This years dates 11 July - 27 July 2019
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  • Return transport from Lima to Huancayo (bus – 10 hours $70 NZD)

  • 4×4 Transport from Huancayo to our farm in San Jose de Quero (2 hrs – $20 NZD)

  • Accomodation with our farmer and family in the village of San Jose de Quero (basic shared accommodation)

  • All food, water, bedding and cultural experiences during your time in Junin (a daily donation to our farmer and host family required – 100 soles per day = $45 NZD)

  • Opportunity to engage in our social responsibility program with the local community

  • Travel to Huaytapallana for hiking

  • A day trip through the back country of Junin to the pristine region of Huancaya

  • Travel to all festivals and events during the 2 weeks (see itinerary)

  • A comprehensive 2 week program involving cultural experiences, harvesting, hiking, travel, festivals and social responsibility with the children of San Jose de Quero.

What’s not included:

  • Flights to and from Peru

  • All expenses (however we can source the best deals for you internally)

  • Travel and Health Insurance (required)

  • Vaccinations (Required)

  • Travel tickets internally (we can assist with booking if required)

Maca root – beyond the bagged grocery product

For the people of Peru maca has a cultural and spiritual significance, far beyond the final powdered products they produce for our consumption. It is a celebration of Pachamama (mother earth) for providing the rich harvest and is a symbol of fertility and good health. The harvest itself is a festival rich in bright colours, music and traditions to give thanks. It is something that has been done for generations and is woven into the fabric of their society.

The ugly reality of superfoods

This is our farmer. He has come from a family of farmers who have lived off the land high up in the Andes in Peru for generations. His house is in need of serious construction, with no running water, intermittent electricity, no heating, no internet, no television and very little comforts. To wash dishes his family must trek to the local mountain stream and fill buckets of water, before bringing them back to boil. In winter they use fire to stay warm as the overnight temperature can easily plummet to zero given they are at 4100m above sea level. Everything we take for granted on a daily basis is a struggle for our farmer and his family. He cannot afford to pay people to help him on his farm, so every harvest he and his entire family must work frantically at 4200m with backbreaking manual labour from sunrise to sunset to harvest maca before the end of the drying window (July-August) or else their precious crop goes to waste. His children attend the local school that also has no heating, no warm water, no internet and classrooms that reach near freezing in winter. They have blankets to stay warm that are often made from recycled clothes as they cannot afford to buy fabric. They have little in the way of school supplies and are forced to recycle almost everything purely out of necessity instead of choice. Some children will walk for an hour or more to school as there are no buses, or forms of transport. They have a handful of teachers, that have to teach all subjects and are lucky to have 1 student per year progress on to attend university purely due to the cost of tertiary education. So the question we ask you is do you think it is fair?

Is it fair that a farmer who is living on an agricultural goldmine, supplying you with maca and quinoa should live in such poverty?

With the recent superfood boom and corporations now selling maca into supermarkets the demand has led brokers in Peru to pressure farmers and their communities to produce more and more product with less compensation. Brokers are experts at exploiting the humble and often unknowingly naive maca farmers who have been living a simple farming life for generations. As such, farmers are becoming overworked and underpaid, causing many to want to give up their profession. It can take up to 10 years to regenerate the soil after one harvest of maca and the farms, communities, environment and farmers are physically and emotionally stretched to keep up with demands. Combine this with unsettled global weather patterns and continual exploitation of farmers and the supply chain is now at the brink of breaking point where the maca industry in Peru may soon collapse without intervention and assistance.

The ugly truth is that brokers and corporations are getting rich off the back of superfood farmers. Corporate greed is destroying a 2000 year old culture and history that will soon be lost if we don’t intervene.

Maca root and maca powder
Maca root and maca powder

What we are doing to help

At Seleno Health we believe it is up to us as consumers, suppliers and retailers to protect the heritage, culture and history behind maca and to create an ethical and sustainable way to produce it that benefits all involved. We have a direct partnership with our farm, farmer and community and are committed to offer protection from exploitation. We buy direct from our farmer with a transparent pricing structure so he can see the value of his product in our market. We allow full production of our final product to be carried out by our farmer in Peru, so in essence we are selling his product on his behalf. We donate a percentage of our profits back into a development fund to improve the lives of the people who produce our products. We raise additional funds to further assist our farmer and his community with specific initiatives.

Currently we are improving the conditions at the San Jose de Quero school and our farmer’s house, in terms of infrastructure, consumables, heating, water, internet and sanitation. We are funding the building of accommodations to house eco-tourists that will allow a long-term sustainable income for our farmer and family additional to his current trade. We are also creating cultural and profession development programs for our farmer, his family and the local school children to improve their levels of education and professional experience. We believe that if we all are benefitting from the rich agricultural resources supplied by our farmer then so should they. When you choose to buy a food from a developing country, do your research, buy ethically and support companies who are giving back. Your purchase is like a vote, vote wisely and vote for the people who are trying to preserve and protect, not profit.

Farm to table maca

When you buy our maca you are buying direct from the farm, with $1 from each 500g bag and 50c from each 125g bag going directly to fund blankets, school supplies and equipment for the San José de Quero school in Junin, Peru.

Show your support

  1. Firstly you can buy our maca or maca book.
  2. Secondly you can support our brand by advertising our cause and sharing our story on your social sites.
  3. Thirdly you can sponsor a child.
  4. Forthly you can volunteer with us in Peru and help our farmer during harvest, teach at the local school and get involved in one of the ongoing development projects. To express your interest just complete the form below.

For those who donate or buy our products here is what your money will be used for:

The San Jose de Quero School

  • Blankets for the children in winter
  • School supplies (pens, pencils, books, calculators and other consumables)
  • A heating system for keeping the children warm in winter
  • Internet to allow access to online education and a link to a New Zealand college as part of a cultural and language exchange initiative
  • Industrial grade sewing machines and fabrics for their textiles classes
  • A travel fund to allow 2 students the opportunity to travel to New Zealand for a 3-month education and cultural experience, linking with a New Zealand college and sharing their stories and culture with our consumers

Our farmer and his family

  • Infrastructural improvements to allow access to running water, power, internet and to create a healthier and more comfortable home for the whole family
  • A heating system to keep the family warm in winter
  • Installation of accommodation units to allow a long-term sustainable income through eco-tourism
Buy a bag or maca book to donate

I want to show support

Buy a bag of our farm to table maca or a maca book and support our model of ethical and sustainable trade
Buy a bag or maca book to donate