By Mike Safley | December 20, 2016

The Quechua Benefit Ambassador Program: From Down Under to the Mountain Top (part two)

Part 2

2000-portable-v3-mar13For the Corani EPD project to succeed in the dual goal of 1) increasing the price of the co-op’s fleece and 2) simultaneously improving the genetics of the member’s alpacas, it needed a micron measurement device. I consulted with Angus McColl of Yocom-McColl Testing Laboratories in Denver, Colorado, who recommended an OFDA (optical-based fiber diameter analyzer) 2000, manufactured by BSC Electronics of Australia.

None of the large alpaca co-ops in Peru own this kind of testing equipment, as it is very expensive. BSC Electronics has been designing and manufacturing fiber testing equipment for almost two decades and is a world leader with a unique range of fiber measurement instruments. All are based on the latest digital video technology, and the machines are used in more than 30 countries around the world.

Angus introduced me via email to Mark Brims of BSC in Australia. Together, we found a way for Armando’s co-op and the city of Corani to obtain a state of the art OFDA 2000. Mark and his team trained Armando and his team to use the machine.

Dr David Notter, who helped create the first EPD program in the USA, joined with Dr. Gustavo Gutierrez (director of the fiber laboratory at La Molina University in Lima) to create the computer software programs necessary to produce EDP’s for the Corani project. The team trained the technical experts in Peru on the science of population genetics and the creation of EPD’s.

Quechua Benefit is interested in the breed improvement program assembled though our Ambassador project for the following reasons:

  1. It will ultimately be 100% sustained by the Peruvian breeders
  2. The OFDA machine will allow the co-op to class their fleece and add value for the families
  3. In return for Quechua Benefit becoming Ambassadors for the program and assembling the necessary technical assistance, the co-op has agreed to provide breeding males to other areas of Peru where alpaca breeders badly need to improve the value and quality of their clip
  4. Quechua Benefit will leverage their expertise in the project, not their balance sheet

The initial results of this program are positive. The participating breeders using the OFDA machine were able to class their fleece production by micron count. Armed with this knowledge, they were able to negotiate a premium of 25% for their fiber above the price received by comparable co-op’s in the immediate region.

We are currently assisting a second large alpaca breeding community in their acquisition of an OFDA machine from Australia.

Quechua Benefit is in the business of creating sustainable programs that build Healthy Communities. This project is a prime example of how this objective can be met.

Read part one of this two part series here.

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