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En route to the base of our mountain trek, we passed by numerous agricultural areas. Immediately, I asked our guide about farming practices. What do they grow? When? How do they irrigate?

Apparently, the modern Peruvians grow crops during both the rainy and dry season, just as the Incas did many years ago. The secret? An extensive network of aqueducts that transports stashes of water from high in the mountains to the fertile land below.

In my mind, I compared this to Ethiopia. Ethiopia also has the mountainous terrain, but – if I had to guess – the country has a much deeper water table (one of the deepest) and lacks the high altitude lakes of Peru (I never made it to the Ethiopian mountains, though, so I don’t know for sure). While pump technologies may have great potential for farming in Ethiopia, they may not take off so well in Cusco. Sure, pumps and drip irrigation kits save water, but I would be curious to know if the people think this is a problem. Maybe there are other issues they find more pressing. I wish I had had more time there to investigate matters further.

The Incas have a good track record – they knew what they were doing when it came to terraced agriculture and aqueducts. I think this is a reminder: don’t fix something that isn’t broken.

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