Ten minutes down a dusty road out of Mucuchies at the Proinpa cooperative, farmers are growing a unique crop of seed potatoes. They are growing seedlings obtained from a seed bank in town run by local producers. The seed bank is located in an agro-ecological school near the town centre, and is also run by producers. The project is part of a national push to promote domestic production of seeds, and rehabilitate native crops. The initiative is still embryonic at a national level, but in Mucuchies 80 producers have joined the cooperative since it was launched 14 years ago; and even more benefit directly from its work. Proinpa sells its seed potatoes directly to farmers in the area at solidarity prices, and also encourages the use of organic farming practices, though chemicals are still used as a last resort. The cooperative is only supplying farmers in the area.
12 different varieties of potato are currently being produced, including some that are indigenous to Merida state.
Members of the cooperative told VA the project wouldn't be possible without funding from the national government.