FAO helps strengthen indigenous organizations in the high Andes of Ecuador and Peru

Beneficiary families in Peru and Ecuador report savings of nearly 30% in food expenditure. 

Key facts

In the heart of the Andes, in Peru and Ecuador, indigenous communities of Huancavelica and Chimborazo today have a lot to celebrate: families are able to cultivate and sell their own food, children have adequate nutrition and local indigenous organizations are helping family farmers in preserving ancestral culture. In 2007-2011, FAO launched the FORSANDINO project in collaboration with the New Zealand Aid Programme, helping some 1100 indigenous families improve food security by strengthening the local indigenous organizations and increasing family farming production.

Improving crop yield and reducing the proportion of families living below the poverty line are just two of the positive impacts of a FAO project run in Peru and Ecuador.

The New Zealand Aid Programme together with FAO implemented the FORSANDINO (Strengthening of High-Andean Indigenous Organizations and Recovery of their Traditional Products) project from 2007 to 2011 in Huancavelica, Peru, and Chimborazo in Ecuador. The overall objective of the project was to help improve food security among families in indigenous communities by strengthening their development and management.

By incorporating traditional products from each of the two towns in the daily diet of households and by marketing the surplus of produce, families were able to reduce their levels of food insecurity and child malnutrition and increase their revenues. 

"Traditional crops are of great significance, as they are an opportunity to increase and diversify agricultural production at both local and national levels and thereby contribute to reducing the vulnerability of Andean countries to both price and climate shocks," said Salomón Salcedo, FAO officer.

Communities which participated in the project were able to generate new business and sell their surplus seed to government institutions and organizations.

In Peru, the production of traditional crops in these communities significantly increased: 329% more quinoa, 172% more tarwi and 100% more potatoes, oca and mashua. Also per capita, consumption of these products in the participating families increased by: 73% in the case of quinoa, 43% in mashua and 64% oca.

"Before we used to buy certain vegetables but now that we have grown our organic gardens and family greenhouses, we produce and eat our own ," said Alejandro Quispe, from the Peruvian community Padre Rumí.

In Ecuador, the project generated a 140% increase in the production of potatoes, 156% increase in melloco, 97% in quinoa, 206% lupin, 124% more oca and 88% more mashua.

"Today we produce most of what we eat," said Manuel Paguay, one of the project beneficiaries in Ecuador.

A direct impact on food security and a boost in income
In Peru, the family net annual income per capita increased by 54% for families participating in the project. There was also a reduction in the proportion of families living below the poverty line.

In Ecuador, the impacts of the project led to a 7% drop in the proportion of families living below the poverty and a 48% increase in net family annual income.

"We are now eating more and better than before. We have learned that we have to balance our diet and especially consume our own products," said Alejandro Quispe.

Strengthening indigenous organizations
Through this project, FAO built on the existing community development plans by extending the participation of men and women to allow farmers to obtain better financing for their agricultural activities. 

Apart from quantitative indicators, also greater participation of community members in various public spaces was achieved. In Ecuador, for example, the Council of Chacareros (agricultural wisemen) was established and legally recognized by the Council for the Development of Nations and Peoples of Ecuador.

Committees for promoting community development were created in Peru, composed of men and women who have the knowledge and skills to lead their communities in areas such as local planning or resource management.

In addition, local networks for exchanging information and experiences were created to improve the quality of life, food and nutrition security of communities. One of the most popular means used was rural radio.

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