Elsa María Zaldívar Rolón
San Lorenzo, Paraguay
Fellow Since 2001
This profile was prepared when Elsa María Zaldívar Rolón was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
In Paraguay, where the income of rural families is closely linked to the price of cotton, Elsa María has created a small but profitable industry of organic lufa cultivation. By drawing on local agricultural knowledge, she brings together organic farmers producing high quality lufa, a substitute for cotton and the plantation-style processed lufa produced in China. Women in Elsa María's network use local resources like non-chemical fertilizer and employ natural techniques to minimize expenses and respect the environment as a long-term resource. In addition to teaching concrete skills related to agriculture and marketing, Elsa María makes women's participation central in the development of their communities.