Ecuador is one of the most naturallly, culturally and ethnically diverse countries in the world. Oil, natural resources and fertile soil are found among Andean peaks, tropical cloud forests, Amazonian jungle and coastal lands. Despite its rich diversity, Ecuadorians experience great economic, social and political inequities as a result of more than 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, or 25 acres. 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's Work in Ecuador
Heifer International began its work of supporting the rural development process in Ecuador in 1954 with agricultural programs promoted initially by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. In the 1960s and 70s, Heifer concentrated on setting up a Brahman and Holstein breeding center and on training farmers in a homesteader area on Ecuador’s coast. Since 2004 the concept of food sovereignty has been incorporated as the framework for all of Heifer Ecuador’s work. Research regarding this work has yielded materials to inform collective reflection, enhancing the work by and with rural organizations.
Heifer Ecuador has given priority to working directly with rural organizations. Heifer also works with nongovernmental organizations dealing directly with and well trusted by rural organizations. Heifer’s relationships with partner organizations, especially rural organizations, address the challenge of building, on the basis of food sovereignty, a decent life for rural people. Current work
promotes advocacy through small farmers’ actions.
Key Services Heifer Provides:
Sustainable agricultural production: Agro-biodiversity recovery and conservation; measuring, documenting, producing ecologically sound practices among smallholder farmers
Post-harvest management and processing: Promoting smallholder farmer production in response to market demand
Market development: Increasing market opportunities for smallholder farmers; supporting marketing and circulation of agroecological produce; facilitating coordination among organizations of consumers and producers
Technology: Improving the national gene bank; technical assistance in implementing sustainable technologies
Nutrition: Advocating for food sovereignty policies
See where Heifer is working around the world to end hunger.
The chickens Nancy received from Heifer made an immediate difference. Now she can earn income to pay for her children's education.
The Heifer International Sacramento Volunteers held a community celebration for Heifer's 70th Anniversary. The event featured chicks to hold, activities to engage and speakers to inspire. Bill Beck (pictured), one of the original Heifer seagoing cowboys, and Rosa Rodriguez, Heifer Ecuador Country Director, were featured speakers at the event. Everyone enjoyed the chance to reconnect and gain renewed dedication to support Heifer's work.
In August, members of the Sacramento Heifer Community Volunteer group traveled to Ecuador to increase their understanding of Heifer's work.
My wife and I have just returned from a Heifer Project study trip to Ecuador. We have long been friends of Heifer and we have now seen first hand the ongoing response to human need in which Heifer is engaged.
We sell the horchata for 40 cents a glass and can earn about $150 in a day. It is a source of income. It helps with the costs of school for my son and food for home.
In January 2011, Heifer began implementing a project in partnership with El Guabo.
Heifer Participant Wilson Sanchez on Agroecological Banana Farm