Pocsi, a successful story from the Peruvian Altiplano
Pocsi is a small village on the Peruvian Altiplano, two hours far from Arequipa.
A small square, a little church, a crumbling town hall, just one two-floor house and lots of tiny, simple houses in the surroundings.
An old woman asks if we’re looking for someone: we have to meet Juanita, who will take us to the aromatic herbs farmers in Pocsi.
“You must be the buyer of the thyme, then! Our community would like to join this experience too: we saw that the Pocsi’s inhabitants had a great success.”
We ask her where is her community from. With her hand, she points at east: “Not so far from here, behind these mountains, just two hours by foot.”
Juanita has just arrived. She came here by foot too.
Of course the two women know each other and Juanita explains us that two months before a group of representatives of a near community reached them to learn more about the thyme cultivation.
“Can you see those purple fields over there? It’s the thyme in bloom that we’re going to pick up the next week.”
We walk up to the fields, where they show us very proudly their cultivations, taken with extreme care: neither grass blades nor weed among the little thyme plants.
“Everything needs to be cleaned before starting the harvesting. We cut the sickles and we bring the harvesting up to the little house over there. When the herbs are dry, we tresh them and we sift the majority of the stems. After that, we bring the full sacks to the village, where they will be carried by the trucks up to Arequipa.”
During the lunch I ask the entourage how they bumped into the thyme cultivation. Anastasio, the oldest one, starts explaining us an extraordinary story. “Thirty years ago we were all hired men with no land. Sometimes we worked for a farmer, sometimes for the district for the mantainance of the streets and we often went to Arequipa to work just for a day. Many people moved to the big city, others always came back to the village.
Thanks to these different jobs, I got to know the region like the back of my hand because I went to work by foot, the bus was too expensive. That’s how I discovered the source you saw this morning above the fields. No one cultivated that area and no one lived there.
At that time, in Pocsi we had an incredible priest who worked hard for the hired men with no land. When I explained him about the source, he wanted to see it personally and I took him on the spot. He made inquiries about the owner and he realised that that land was owned by the Peruvian state. So he invited all the hired men with no land to get organised and ask the state the assignment of the lands. Thanks to the priest, twelve among us joined together and we obtained the property of the lands.”