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Peru Agricultural Calendar

The Culture of Agriculture in Peru

Have you ever wondered what makes Peru such a diverse country? The extreme differences in the environments here contributes to its diversity of plant & animal life.  In addition, it allows for a wide range of crops to thrive. 

Over thousands of years, indigenous people throughout the country have developed an amazing understanding of their local agricultural systems. Their accumulated knowledge is shown in local agricultural calendars, documenting the long agricultural history of Peru.  

One of the richest areas of traditional culture is the Peruvian highlands. These high-altitude communities still carry the traditional knowledge of the Incas, who were experts in transforming mountainous terrain into arable land and agricultural research.  They were masters of adapting agricultural practices to varied microclimates, and built complex terracing to conserve water and provide optimal growing conditions. 

Agriculture is a huge part of the Peruvian economy, and it is also a major part of the way of life.  For example, proof can be found in Patacancha, a traditional village in Cusco, high above the Sacred Valley.  Here, community members follow an annual agricultural calendar that they have planned down to a science.  Along with agricultural milestones, the calendar is linked to religion and community collaboration.

Agricultural Calendar in Cusco

  • September-October: Planting Season The agricultural year starts on September 15th with planting season. To kick off the season, communities participate in traditional ceremonies honoring mother earth—Pachamama. They will bury coca leaves and other sacred symbols as an offering to Pachamama, in hopes that in return, she will provide a plentiful harvest. Farmers then sow seeds for an entire month, ending the season on October 15th.
  • December-February: Alpaca Shearing Alpacas are one of the most commonly raised livestock animals in the Andean highlands. Their wool traditionally provided clothing, warm blankets, and some household goods to community members. Now, their wool is a reliable source of income for their owners. Alpacas are fully sheared once a year from December to February, Peru’s warmer months. The shearing involves a ceremony to honor Pachamama and the mountain gods—Apus—and to marry young alpacas together, representing unity. Although the full shearing only takes place from December to February, you can participate in a mock shearing ceremony any time of year.
  • May-June: Harvest Season In May, June, and July, farmers harvest the crops that have grown since the planting season. Once the crops are harvested, the community has another ceremony called “payment to Pachamama,” where they give back to Pachamama a portion of the crops she has provided to them. This ceremony is an ancient Incan tradition dating back to the 1400s.

 

If you´re interested in experiencing traditional agriculture in Peru, Ayni offers multiple opportunities throughout the country.  A few examples are our Lares Homestay Trek and Andean Spiritualism tour.  However, homestays and community visits can be included in almost any itinerary.

Over thousands of years, Peruvians have developed agricultural calendars specific to their environment.        

In addition to following a traditional agricultural calendar, Patacancha also holds an annual celebration for the anniversary of its founding. The celebration is held on August 29th or 30th of each year, and involves traditional dress, dances, and of course, chicha—a traditional fermented corn drink. Visiting during one of these events is the best way to experience indigenous culture first-hand. No matter what time of year—planting, harvest, shearing, or anniversary season—there is something magical to experience with homestays and community visits.

 

Peru Agricultural Calendar