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Chacra, meaning "land for sowing" in the Quechua language, is a word widely used in the Andes and surrounding cities and towns (even on the coast). It is used today to refer generally to a small plot of land for market gardening. The specific meaning of chacra varies by locale and time. Generally it denotes modest plots of land devoted in part to the production of agricultural goods for household consumption, and in part to small surpluses for sale in local markets. As such, chacras are important sources of household income, usually tended by women and children while men work on nearby estates or in cities for wages. They flourish particularly in agrarian zones around cities, for which they are important sources of foodstuffs. In some regions and times, the chacra may produce for market more than for subsistence and provide full employment for all household members.

See alsoAgriculture; Quechua.


Apffel-Marglin, Frédérique. The Spirit of Regeneration: Andean Culture Confronting Western Notions of Development. New York: Zed Books, 1998.

Mayer, Enrique. The Articulated Peasant: Household Economies in the Andes. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2002.

                                        Jeremy Adelman