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Heifer's Work in Ecuador

Country Overview

Ecuador’s natural, cultural and ethnic diversity makes it one of the richest countries in the world. Oil, natural resources and fertile soil are found between Andean peaks, tropical cloud forests, Amazonian jungle and coastal lands. Despite its wealth, Ecuadorians experience some of the greatest economic, social and political inequities as a result of over five centuries of exploitation, irrational extraction and weak political infrastructure and policies.

Smallholder farmers in Ecuador produce 65 percent of the basic staples in the family diet in plots smaller than 10 hectares. Small yet critical to the nutrition of Ecuadorians, these family plots account for only 10 percent of arable land in the country. The rest of the land belongs to large farms and agricultural corporations.

Heifer Ecuador

Critical to the nutrition of Ecuadorians, family plots account for only 10 percent of arable land in the country.

Heifer International has worked for 54 years to support rural development and farmer organizations in Ecuador. There have been three phases in this period. First, Heifer International began its work in supporting rural development process in Ecuador in 1954, with agricultural programs promoted initially by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. Second, Heifer support opened up for other stakeholders, such as rural organizations and other geographical areas. Third, beginning in 1992, this more holistic approach expanded initiatives to work with other rural organizations, expanding geographically and also in outlook and work areas.

Heifer Ecuador project participant family
Heifer Ecuador project participant family.

Recently Heifer Ecuador has given priority to working directly with rural organizations, including grassroots and second-tier provincial. Heifer's relationships with partner organizations, especially rural organizations, address the challenge of building, on the basis of food sovereignty, a decent life for country people. Current work promotes advocacy through small farmers’ actions. Heifer Ecuador, compared to other cooperation-sector organizations in Ecuador, clearly emphasizes the work to reinforce the country’s rural movement and enhance their possibilities to coordinate as significant stakeholders.