Bolivian Village Cooks Up “Super Food” For Babies

A highly nutritious baby-food made from dried llama meat and other traditional ingredients is providing a locally-produced response to rampant child malnutrition in the Bolivian Andes. Named Kallpawawa, the Quecha word for “super food,” the product has also given the area a much needed economic boost.

CARIPUYO—You’d never guess by looking at him that just a few months ago, Hilaria Terán’s playful baby boy (see photo in box below left) was diagnosed as underweight. His mother says that the one-year-old was in dire straits when a doctor confirmed her worst suspicions.

But he’s rebounded since then and Hilaria says it’s largely thanks to Kallpawawa, which means “super food” in the native Quechua language.

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A blend of corn, wheat, peas and dried llama meat, Kallpawawa is produced by a village-run factory in Caripuyo, the remote and economically depressed corner of the Andean highlands where Hilaria and her family live. “Now he’s healthy and he’s growing fast,” said Hilaria. “And it’s because of this miraculous food that we are producing in our community.” 

A local solution

Kallpawawa grew out of a joint project between WFP and the Bolivian government to design a nutritional product for young children that could be produced in the areas where they live. 

As a key advisor to the country’s “Zero Hunger” initiative, WFP lent its technical expertise in working out the best recipe for Kallpawawa, a process that took some three years of research.

According to local parents, the main ingredient in Kallpawawa, dried llama meat, is also the secret to its success. Charque de llama is a favourite dish throughout Bolivia, but most of all in the Andean highlands where it’s usually friend and served with corn.

Dried llama meat also has a long shelf life, which makes it an ideal source of iron and protein in fortified baby foods.

“Food sovereignty”

The name for the finished project was eventually chosen by the Caripuyo families themselves, during a workshop to highlight its homegrown ingredients. 

“By making this product ourselves, we are attaining both food security and food sovereignty,” said Caripuyo’s mayor, Renato Villca. 

While Caripuyo is the first small town in village to produce its own fortified baby food, Villca said that others would soon follow when they saw the nutritional and economic impact the new factory is having.