“I think that the most important changes I’ve seen in Manolo and in other farmers that I knew throughout the project was the change in their mindset,” said Juliana Albertengo, ICCI Andes Open Burning Coordinator. “They’ve opened their minds and they’ve learned to think systematically. Instead of thinking in terms of individual crops, they’ve learned to see everything as a system which includes both their economic issues and also the climate.”
There’s another environmental benefit from the method, it also helps save water. Rojas says he used to irrigate his crops every 10-15 days but now they can go much longer because the soil retains moisture better because the crop residue covers it.
“Water is a limited resource here and those resources are disappearing. So we know we need to take care of the resources we have,” he said.
This is particularly important where Rojas is from, given that the Huaytapallana glacier is the main source of water supply for Huancayo. Over the past 20 years, the glacier’s snow area has been reduced by 50 percent, devastating given that it provides 40 percent of the water for a river that is a main source of drinking water. Black carbon from open agricultural burning is a major factor in glacier degradation as black carbon particles settle on snow and ice and reduce surface albedo, or the ability to reflect sun.
“Even if it’s a drop in the bucket when it comes to climate change, I’m still so happy about it,” said Rojas. “We will pass away and if we don’t do anything nowadays we will leave the problem for our children so we need to care about the future. That's the most important thing.”