New Film: Paraguay’s Alquimia Farmers

Our ingredient expedition through Paraguay this past spring was a voyage of discovery. At every turn, we found stories of hope, sacrifice and joy.

The newest One Degree film provides a panoramic view of these travels, tracing a path through small towns like Naranjito and Choré, where farmers labor on 10-hectare plots to feed their families and keep pace with the boundless dreams of their children.

Beyond the frame of each farmer portrait is a larger picture, the story of the man who created a business that helps sustain many of these farmers. Two decades ago, Dr. Sergio Demp came from Argentina to set up a rural clinic, and ended up as founder of an agricultural coop that would become a great modernizing force in the lives of the people.

His patients were poor, but paid him with what was dear to them — pure harvests of beans, chia and ancient grains — and this bounty soon filled many warehouses. And so Alquimia was born, a company that today is a partner to so many Paraguayan farmers, supplying seeds, marketing crops, advising in the fields, and lifting communities.

“For the delivery of a baby, sometimes the doctor would receive a little piglet, or several kilos of beans, even chicken eggs,” Alquimia operations manager Pedro Linares recounts with a smile.

“[Today] we train the people to do organic production, but we also have to provide them with collateral services,” he explains. “We give them tractors to use, special implements to move the land, hoes and harvesters. We provide those; they can’t afford that. When we see that a farmer is going to be ready for harvesting say on Monday, we’ll send that machine, and as soon as he is finished using it we pass it to his neighbor. We own four tractors for that purpose, and we have four motorized units farmers can use to clean the crops before they are sent to our plant for processing.”

“The father of the company would always tell us, if you want to help in Paraguay it’s not to give money, it’s to give work to the people,” adds Alquimia commercial manager Tamara Pfeiffer, articulating the coop’s guiding philosophy. “If you give seeds and work to the people, the people in Paraguay love to garden and farm, and are so proud to grow crops that customers around the world want to buy.”

We invite you to spend some time sharing the inspiring stories of these hardworking family farmers. Begin your visit with our film premiere below. Or enjoy the video along with photos and an essay on our website: