When you think about farms, the animals that come to mind are probably cows, sheep, horses, and…guinea pigs?
Guinea pig – or cuy in South America – are one of the most rewarding animals to raise throughout the Americas. They are seen as a delicacy, especially in Peru and Ecuador, served primarily during special occasions. Guinea pigs have been raised as food and pets for centuries, dating back to 5000 BC where they were domesticated by tribes in the Andean region of South America. Guinea pig statues were unearthed in Peru and Ecuador dating back to 500 BC!
Starting a cuy farm doesn’t require acres of space; room is only needed for 10-25 guinea pigs. They are fairly affordable and do not make a lot of mess, making them a great choice for new farmers. On the AMIGOS Summer Program in Chimborazo, Ecuador, some volunteers have even helped start a sustainable community cuy farm!
Guinea pigs are growing in popularity throughout the world. They eat simple vegetation and greens. They’re also very hardy animals, don’t make a lot of noise, and don’t bite or scratch. They’re very tame, so easy to take care of!
Some countries love cuy so much, they hold celebrations in their honor! In Quingeo, Ecuador there is a Guinea Pig Beauty Contest every year with pint-sized traditional Ecuadorian attire. In Peru, cuy get their own festivals in every major city. Even North America is joining in on the fun with guinea pig festivals in major cities such as Toronto and San Francisco.
Are you ready to help out a local community cuy farm or start another type of microenterprise in South America? Apply for an AMIGOS program today!