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Ecuador, ancestral grains fight poverty and malnutrition

Luogo : ecuador, South America
Quantitative & qualitative enhancement of crop products Quantitative & qualitative enhancement of crop products
Budget totale: € 0,00 | Periodo: Da settembre 2010 A

Sintesi

Riscatto di colture e ricette dimenticate, recupero e valorizzazione di tecniche ancestrali, integrate con moderne conoscenze agroecologiche per il rafforzamento della sicurezza alimentare, creando opportunità economiche per i piccoli produttori indigeni, specialmente donne.

Questa è l'essenza del programma Oxfam in Ecuador, basato sul recupero di amaranto e altri grani andini, svolto assieme al Comune di Cotacachi, Ministero dell'Agricoltura, Centro Nazionale del Germoplasma, comunità locali.

Oggi a Cotacachi è in piedi una Campagna che promuove l'importanza della agrobiodiversità per la sovranità alimentare e il ruolo dei piccoli produttori nel proteggerla.

Questi hanno a disposizione spazi per la vendita dei prodotti, quali mercati biologici e a km zero, e guadagnano il 22% in più.

La rilevanza data dalle Autorità locali e l’apprezzamento dei consumatori per le colture indigene tradizionali, hanno aumentato l’autostima delle comunità indigene, spesso marginalizzate e discriminate

Partnership

Oxfam Italia - Italia

Candidato guida

Oxfam lavora per aiutare le persone a migliorare le loro condizioni di vita, fornendo loro sostegno e risorse adeguate, favorendo processi di sviluppo sostenibili nel lungo periodo. Si incarica di portare acqua, servizi igienico-sanitari e rifugi alle popolazioni vittime di conflitti e disastri naturali, e quando l’emergenza è finita, sostiene la ricostruzione fino al ritorno alla normalità. Pubblica analisi e organizza eventi di informazione per influenzare le politiche che causano la povertà e l’ingiustizia globale; tramite percorsi educativi ed iniziative di mobilitazione, stimola i cittadini a chiedere ai leader un maggior impegno nella difesa e nella promozione degli interessi delle persone più povere e vulnerabili.

COTACACHI ORGANIC AGRICULTURAL PRODUCERS ASSOCIATION "MAMA MURUCUNA" - Ecuador

Partner dell'iniziativa

The association aims to improve life quality of the most marginalized social groups, especially of the families with limited economic resources, which carry on agroecological income generating activities, preserving local habits and traditions, pursuing food sovereignty. The Association promotes the use of innovative and environmentally sustainable agricultural techniques, promotes native grains cropping and use, and its post-harvest, agroindustrial and commercialization processes.

Union of Indigenous and Peasant Organization of Cotacachi - Ecuador

Partner dell'iniziativa

Promotion of Development with Identity through representation and politicy positioning, management and implementation of development projects to achieve the "Alli Kawsay" (Good life) in our Indigenous and Peasant communities The action is based on identity and the principles of integrality, complementarity, equity and solidarity of Kichwa people. Enhancing food sovereignty through fair access to water and land, biodiversity conservation and the support to agroecological production and other sustainable income generating activities. Its strategy includes 5 pillars: I. Strengthening the organizational, Civic and Electoral Participation II. Water, Land and Biodiversity III. Alternative agricultural Production and other productive activities IV. Identity, Justice, Education and Knowledge Management V. Intercultural health

Decentralized Autonomous Municipal Government of Santa Ana de Cotacachi - Ecuador

Partner dell'iniziativa

Municipality of Cotacachi is a local, autonomous, decentralized government, with legal entity which, according to the Ley of Municipalities, has the mission to get an efficient governance and administration according to Cotacachi County‘s interests. It has the aim to guarantee the development and wellness of its collectivity, coordinating with territorial stakeholders and actors, including international cooperation, through policies able to improve the quality of life and dignity of its population, This institution plans and manages its policies, investments and budget in a participative way, aiming at a sustainable development with identity.

The program aimed at the promotion of food security and local development through the redemption of the Andean GRAINS, in order to build a public, participatory and inclusive policy preserving and enhancing biodiversity. The experience recovered forgotten crops and techniques and integrated them with modern agro-ecological knowledge. Such combination gave sustainable economic opportunities to indigenous small scale producers, expecially women, and enhanced food security and food sovereignity through the promotion of local multicultural identity. Such recognition of food sovereignty, accomplished through respect of biodiversity and through the essential role of small producers, has resulted into concrete outcomes such as new markets for small holder organic farmers, dedicated fairs which resulted in an increased income (>22%) for 800 families

The main innovation of the experience consists in recovering lost and forgotten ancestral crops, related techniques and recipes, integrating them with modern agronomic practices and modern recipes. Indigenous communities have rediscovered their traditional knowledge, as part of their social & historical identity, increasing their self-esteem. They have been trained to organically produce and harvest crops such as Amaranth, which gained place in the local markets and tables after more than 500 years of absence. Such crops have high nutritive value and can be sold as seeds or trasformed into flour, adding value, with great profit at the local/national market, improving local diet and enhancing small farmers’ income. The use of self-produced pesticides and fertilizers has increased the savings and the consumption of safe food products.  Moreover, the recovery of these crops also allowed many youngs to remain in their village, thus avoiding migrating to bigger cities or even abroad

Adapted trasher This trasher allows the correct post harvest cleaning of amaranth. It is not presente in the marked, but we adapted it in order to fit producers needs. The thasher represents a simple and appropiate technology: spare parts are easily available on local markets, and producers have the skill to manage and mantain in properly.
Organic Fertilizers self production The photo shows the practical training for self production of organic fertilizers, starting from materials available for small scale farmers: animals manure, local spontaneous plants, minerals.
mechanical seeder The picture shows a simple mechanical seeder, that we adapted to the size and features of amaranth, quinua and other andean grains, in order to reduce the work burden: traditionally, sowing is a manual and time consuming activity. The use of seder allows not on y time, but seeds savings.
Andean grains The video resumes the main results of the experience

The program has been implemented in Cotacachi, a region with 40,036 inhabitants, 80% living in rural areas. 37.3% indigenous. Almost 2/3 of the inhabitants live in poverty, almost half of them lives in extreme poverty (less than 60 USD/person/month).
This is mainly due to the unequal distribution of natural resources, as land and water. Small-scale producers have no access to markets nor to basic services, and lack of legislative and financial government support. Colonization reduced the biodiversity and food sovereignty of the region, by introducing wheat: loss of crop diversification increased the dependence to imported products and a heavy usage of chemical fertilizers, thus enhancing the vulnerability of native peoples toward a progressive poverty.
Moreover, the exploitation of mines is seriously damaging natural resources, setting the scenario for social conflicts and human rights violations, since local communities are opposing to large-scale mining in their territories.

A minga: community at work The picture shows indigenous women involved in a "minga", a working activity realized in group.
General view of Cotacachi area and the Cotacachi volcan Andean rural landscape with the Cotacachi volcan
Woman on her plot One of the beneficiary workng on her small property

The program increased by 22% the income of 800 small scale producers, who gained increase in their productivity by 30% through technical assistance, training, reducing the use of chemical inputs and introducing dryers, sowing machine and thrashers. Moreover, enabling them to directly access to the market reduced the power of the middlemen and resulted in an increase in their income. The program reintroduced amaranth, which is now produced and consumed at local/national level. Andean grains in Cotacachi are now served in local schools canteen thanks to the creation, by the Local Municipality, of a company for the procurement of foods from small scale producers. As a broader result the program valorized indigenous food, which is now offered by touristic restaurants. Such results have been made possible by a strong commitment by the Cotacachi Municipality which promotes Andean grains usage, production and commercialization as a strategy for territorial development through local identity

Amaranth is ready! The first harvest of amaranth, after years of absence from Ecuador, is ready!
Harvesting In the picture we can see a moment of a very good harvest of amaranth: an important moment within the program!
Marketing The picture shows a moment of andean grains commercialization in local fairs
Andean grains The video resumes the main results of the experience
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Promotion and marketing: traditional and modern recipes As part of comercial and promotional strategy, we produced a booklet with modern and traditional recipes, with the colaboration of popular ecuatorian chefs and old people in the communities who remembered lost recipes

Beneficiaries of the program have been 800 families of farmers, mostly women, as well as women rural tourism organisations and art craft small enterprises.
Beneficiary farmers own less than 0.5 ha of land. Traditional farming system generated very low income and caused enviromental problems due to loss of knowledge and inappropriate/eccessive use of chemicals, as well as difficult access to quality productive inputs, low efficiency of manual agriculture system, high cost and low quality.
For this reason many male farmers were obliged to emigrate - temporarily or permanently - while women have been left alone to deal with both farming and family care. In addition, the daily diet of poor communities has depleted both in diversity and quality. The program addressed both issues, and now women are considered keepers of traditions, as custodians of biodiversity. Furthermore, women are producing income for the family, and their self-esteem and empowerment has considerably increased

Cotacachi Assembly for County Concord's plenary assembly The plenasy of the AUC (Asamblea de Unidad Cantonal, Asembly for County Concord) discusses about the Campaign on Food Sovereignity and Agroecology.
Harvesting corn A women and her daughters while harvesting corn, the main product for self-subsistance in the Andean Area
Woman working on her small plot A kichwa women working on her small plot
Andean grains The video resumes the main results of the iniciative

The program has been carried out in partnership with a communities based organizations, Unorcac (Municipal Indigenous Organization) whose staff is involved in the planning and implementing of field activities. Particularly, local staff include an agronomist who is in charge of field activities, such as improving production techniques and post-harvest processing and related training; one economist with good experience about market dynamics at different levels, as well as on local farming systems and socio-cultural local context; one rural promoter, in charge of relations with associations, producers and communities; and an accountant, who manages the administration, and coordinates procurement’s procedures, as well as the administrative accountability of the project. As to Oxfam’s personnel, there is a senior agronomist who is responsible for the coordination, the planning and supervision of all the activities.

Agronomist on field The agronomist, giving technical and practical training on-field
Project staff In the photo, the whole staff: coordinator, the agronomist, economist , rural promoters, administrator, with the president of Mama Murucuna (asociation composed by the small scale producers involved in the program)
Rural promoter The rural promoter, giving technical assistance and follow up to the producers

Our action is coherent with the national priorities, being aligned with the food sovereignty via the valorisation of native crops, as stated in the Constitution and in the planning sectorial documents.
Nevertheless, due to the relative low value of andean grains, compared at national level with other crops (banana, cocoa, rice), it has not been possible to get a strong and concrete engagement of the national Level, even if the  INIAP and the  Ministry of Agriculture endorsed the initiative and involved directly Oxfam in the organization of the International Congress on Quinua (Ibarra, 2014)

Our strategy focused on political incidence at local and subnational level, wide partnership and alliances, not only with the Municipalities, but also establishing a relation with the Provincial level  and with the decentralized Offices of the Ministry of Agriculture, that created the enabling conditions for sustainability and replicability, and above all the the scaling up to the national level
 

Sowing wheel In the picture, a modified sowing wheel. One of the problem lied in the absence of adecuate simple mecanisation technology in the coutry, as Amaranth was not an economically important crop, so Universities and Private secto did not invest in applied research for its mechanization. In the program, we investigated at field level and found technological, simple but affective solutions. The sowing wheel is one of them, and allws women to save many hours of hard work, and reduced seeds loss.

The program has reduced the usage of chemical inputs, by promoting the self-production of fertilizers and bio insecticides. It also decreased the impact of pests and diseases thanks to the promotion of more integrated farming systems (intercropping, adequate rotation etc.) The program also promoted more agro-bio diverse farming systems, and increased the biodiversity in the rural and peri-urban area of Cotacachi; this resulted in the reduction of the risks of losing the annual crops, due to causes related to climate change as the Andean grains demonstrated greater resilience to drought in comparison with other crops.
Finally, in order to provide sustainability, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Oxfam and the Municipality of Cotacachi on the environmental management, agricultural biodiversity management and citizens’ awareness raising

bio insecticide self production Producers are trained through a on field capacitation, about self production of insecticides, using local plants, available at farm level
Andean grains The video resumes the main results of the iniciative

After other Municipalities analysed the experience of Cotacachi, they requested Oxfam collaboration for its replication. Particularly the Imbabura Provincial Government is designing an Ordinance based on Oxfam experience, that will be scaled up to a subnational level.
Other Provinces have already shown their interest in testing a similar program, and asked for exchanging the experience. Many are the elements which make this experience transferable in a broader national context: the strong interest of local authorities; the similarity of the cultural, institutional, political and agro-ecological context of Cotacachi to many other Andean Municipalities; the good level of demand on local, national and international markets, and the related interest of the private sector in producing, processing and marketing the products.  All introduced changes are respectful of local culture and traditions, and do not require high investment, making them accessible to small scale producers.

Field exchange of experiences In order to multiply and spread the program results and gain scalability, a series of field visits have been organized in order to motivate other local autorities and local organizations to replicate the experience.
Food sovereignity campaign The poster is part of the campaign for food sovereignity that Cotacachi Municipality launched within the process of andean grains valorization
Promotion and marketing of andean grains An event of promotion of the use of andean grains in the urban area, that is part of the comercial and marketing strategy

The experience has been disseminated both at national and international level, with many means and actions: a public campaign, named “Cotacachi for food sovereignty”, led by the Municipality; the introduction in the development Plan of the Municipality of a Local marketing plan for typical products; the organisation by producers of 15 national events for agro-biodiversity and food sovereignty; the national fair for seed exchange, organized at a local level, which has now been institutionalized and assumed a national level; six tours of exchange of experience with other six Provinces.
The new Local Committee for Agricultural Investigation, composed by small scale producers, agronomist and schools which has been settled in Cotacachi, is nowadays producing and spreading Andean grains seeds, and it is identifying and disseminating improved techniques.

bookmarks As a sample of the divulgation material produced, these bookmarks, low cost material, have been widely dinstributed at national level in oder to create awereness about the richness of the andean grains.
handbooks A series of handbook for small scale proucers, for technicians and for local organization have been produced. They regards technical aspects on production and post harvest, recipes, nutritional property of andean grains. Their spread at national level is part of the dissemination strategy
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Recipes with Andean Grains A recipe-book with traditional and modern recipes, that is part of the divulgation, promotion and marketing strategy