Manabi Province, Ecuador-- "It is good to learn how to raise pigs," says Katiuska Lord, "but the best thing has been to meet up with other young people from the area." Ms Lord, 19, is one of 57 adolescents from eight communities in Valle del Río Portoviejo, Manabi Province, Ecuador, who have participated in a pig-raising project initiated by TeleFood, FAO's global campaign dedicated to helping reduce the number of hungry people in the world.
The group of 43 young women and 14 young men, aged 16 to 20, has met twice a month for a year to receive training in raising and breeding pigs. After the first two months of training each participant received two piglets to raise at home.
"Some of the families ate their pigs when they became fat enough, some sold them to get money and some of the pigs are now reproducing," says Diana Alcitar, a local woman who, as a volunteer, arranges the training sessions in cooperation with technicians working at a nearby FAO project. "The important thing is that the families now are equipped to raise new pigs," she adds, as she and some of the participants proudly show a visitor a newly built pigsty housing a big boar and four sows, two of which are pregnant.
Only a few of the 57 participants are still in school. Most work on their family's farm plots. "I have learned things that can help me and my family, and it is not only about pig raising," says Ms Lord. In addition to receiving training in pig raising, the participants discuss issues related to health and nutrition, as well as human relations and sexuality. "Our meetings are both interesting and fun. We arrange parties and discuss all kinds of things that we cannot talk to our parents about," she adds.
The original TeleFood pig-raising project, which cost US$ 8 200, is now over, but many of the adolescents still meet every other week. Based on their experiences from the project, they have established a youth organization -- the Manabi Youth Movement -- the first and only initiative for the province's rural youth. "There is very little for young people to do in the area, both in terms of leisure activities and work," says Ms Alcitar.
The main aim of the movement is to create an environment where young people can get together, arrange social activities and in the long run help each other initiate small income-generating activities, such as making handicrafts or raising animals. In addition they are continuing the training sessions and discussion. Each member pays US$1 every three months to participate.
"A big problem here in Ecuador is to get money to start new things," says Ms Alcitar. "We hope that maybe TeleFood will support our movement with a microcredit project and make our dream come true."
01 October 2001