“It’s amazing how much we have done in the last 24 hours,” Corinna Clements said as she hiked through the dense forests to the thundering waterfall in the distance.
She wasn’t kidding.
In the last 24 hours, Clements, a rising senior majoring in agricultural and applied economics from Purcellville, Virginia, and Austin Larrowe have been on a whirlwind tour in the Andean Mountains.
They’ve interviewed farmers, visited local fruit markets, spoke heaps of Spanish, sampled the local fare, got soaked by cascading waterfalls, and glimpsed at a few active volcanoes.
The two are students of Jeff Alwang, a professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences who has spent decades working on agricultural issues in the South America. Four of his students, two undergraduates and two graduates, are conducing research on various agricultural issues in Ecuador this summer.
Clements and Larrowe, of Woodland, Virginia, also a rising senior studying agricultural and applied economics and agricultural sciences, are examining the relationship that local farmers have with naranjilla, a sweet fruit that produces a delicious juice. They are working with the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab and INEAP, the national Ecuadorian agricultural research organization, to assess best management practices for growing naranjilla. The work of INIAP and IPM Innovation Lab could help slow the deforestation of these spectacular mountains while helping farmers increase their bottom line.
The two interviewed farmers and asked about the challenges of growing naranjilla, which include a nasty fusarium wilt and a constant battle against pests. They also trying to find out how much the naranjilla sells for in various markets.
After a long morning at the local markets, we headed to a restaurant that specializes in cui – what you may know as guinea pig. It’s a delicacy in Ecuador.
“I’m not sure if I’m supposed to eat it or shake its hand,” Larrowe said when his lunch came with a outstretched, if thoroughly charred, paw.
Turns out, guinea pig tastes nothing like chicken.
Some other pics from their adventure so far are below. Stay tuned for the next four days for more updates from Ecuador!