4 - Farming on the ash: The Importance of Uturuncu to Quinoa Farmers

In this lesson the class explores the features of the Uturuncu volcano in Bolivia and the importance of it to local quinoa farmers.

N.B. This activity links to the '2 - The Pasta Process' activity (lesson 2). It can be split into parts and undertaken over a series of lesson as identified below.

Curriculum Links
This lesson plan links to Curriculum aims and programmes of study in Geography and Science and DT, and to non-statutory programmes of study in Citizenship.

Learning Objective
To understand the features of a volcano and how one is formed.

Learning Outcome
Children have investigated the Uturuncu volcano and can explain how it was formed and the impact it has on the lives of those living in Bolivia.

Resources Needed
Materials to build volcano if appropriate.

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Prepare a plenary suitcase sheet (as outlined below).

Brainstorm ideas from the class about volcanoes – any words they know, what they think they look like, and how often they erupt. Explain that Anapqui quinoa farmers benefit from the Uturuncu volcano even though it hasn’t erupted for thousands of years. How is this possible?

Main Activity
Part 1

Look at the diagram describing Uturuncu. Pupils copy diagram labelling and describing each feature.

Part 2
In pairs pupils think of what long term and short term effects a volcano can have on the surrounding environment. Discuss how a volcano can erupt and ultimately make the soil richer. Consider the environment of the quinoa farmers. Does the class think that it is easy or hard for farmers on the Altiplano to earn a living? What are some of the problems they face?

- Difficulties in getting a fair price for their crop, especially when they sell to middlemen. 
- Not much work available in the area, meaning that young people have to move away.
- The soil is really good for quinoa but it’s too high an altitude for most other crops. It’s hard to supplement their income. 
- Machinery and equipment, and training in efficient, organic farming techniques are difficult to find.

Explain that although the volcanically enriched soil means that farmers are able to grow quinoa, the geography of the Altiplano brings its own problems to quinoa farmers. Fairtrade is key to overcoming these challenges. 
- Farmers receive a fair price for their quinoa when they sell to Anapqui as well as access to new markets. 
- The quinoa processing factory has provided jobs in the area, and because farmers have somewhere to sell their produce they are able to stay in the Andes.
- The Fairtrade premium has meant that farmers have access to training and equipment.

Part 3
In pairs pupils read one of the Anapqui producer stories and record one difference Fairtrade has made to the producer, their family or the wider community.

This begins can also be used as an assessment for learning tool throughout the unit. Provide a template of a suitcase for each child, or for younger classes bring in a suitcase as a prop.

At the end of the lesson ask students what they are going to take away with them from the lesson. This could be new information, something which they found interesting, or a new skill. They then draw/depict this in their suitcase.

At the beginning of the next lesson students can look at their suitcase again. Can they remember what they took and why they decided it was important? (The suitcase can be added to throughout the week).

As a long term extension or part of a DT project, pupils may want to produce plans to make a working version of Uturuncu volcano and then construct them.