Climate-Smart Livestock in Ecuador: A Successful FAO Partnership with the Private Sector

By Agustin Zimmermann, FAO Representative in Ecuador

Thanks to a partnership with FAO, the food company El Ordeño offers a new generation of sustainable food products, aimed at responsible consumers who care about of the origin of their food, with positive socio-economic and environmental effects. ©FAO


The alliance between FAO and the Ecuadorian company El Ordeño began in 2016, within the framework of the implementation of the Climate-smart Livestock (CSL) approach.

Through close cooperation between the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) and the Ministry of the Environment (MAE), and with financial support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the FAO Representation in Ecuador actively promoted participation of private companies as allies in the implementation of the CSL approach, through a process of dialogue and knowledge exchange.

As part of this effort, at the beginning of 2019, a strategic alliance was established with El Ordeño, an important food company, in order to promote the local capacities of technicians and producers in the company's work areas.

The collaboration had two stages.

The first consisted of the development of a pilot project in the Sierra, north of the Pichincha province (Cayambe canton): in this territory, there are around 92 500 head of cattle, the main activity being milk production. In this context, participatory diagnostic tools were adapted and validated, identifying good production practices and a scenario of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions was estimated, and the company's technical teams were trained to use monitoring and control tools to develop a diagnosis of productive systems.

In a second stage, with the participation of 2 400 small farmers, capacity building processes were implemented on good production practices that improved the quality and sustainability of dairy farming.


The impact of this alliance made it possible to optimize the productive capacity of farmers with a focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation, expanding to other benefits, such as an increase in the profitability of their production and a notable improvement in product quality, contributing to guarantee food safety and security for families and their communities.

The producers that participated in this initiative raised their production levels from 6 to 7 litres per day (the national average) to 17 litres per day per cow, doubling their economic income with a more efficient and sustainable production system.

During an FAO visit to the area, it was demonstrated together with the CEO of the company El Ordeño, Juan Pablo Grijalva, and technical teams from both institutions, that CSL practices promoted empowerment and organization processes of producers, favouring new investments and collaborations between them, and leading to a greater exchange of knowledge, inputs or practices such as artificial insemination to achieve the genetic improvement of their livestock.

For the company El Ordeño, adopting the CSL approach contributed to the process of becoming a “B Corporation”, a type of company that, through its participation in the market, offers concrete solutions to social and environmental problems through high standards of quality and transparency, acquiring binding corporate responsibilities with society.

This certification allowed them to offer their customers a new generation of sustainable food products, aimed at responsible consumers who are aware of the origin of their food, with positive socio-economic and environmental effects.


In addition, FAO's partnership with the private sector provided a solid platform to ensure the sustainability of the livestock chain in the country and the expansion of the CSL approach, through the strengthening of knowledge management.

This experience shows that research, innovation and development are useful for the private sector: adapting, validating and delivering tools that allow companies to differentiate themselves as promoters of a sustainable production system helps to create a powerful collaboration platform.

Likewise, the generation of quantitative data represents an excellent tool for producers. It helps them make informed decisions that contribute to improving their productivity and income, becoming an incentive to welcome proposed good practices with obvious contributions in terms of performance and quality.

Although the Government of Ecuador has considered the CSL approach within the livestock public policy, balancing the social, economic and environmental perspective requires the participation of the private sector.

Public-private partnerships have shown that they can positively influence production and consumption patterns with a rights and sustainability approach, promoting the development of the country.

Thanks to an articulated work of multiple actors, a conducive environment has been created and the appropriate conditions exist in Ecuador to begin the process of preparing a Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA), which will incorporate the CSL approach.

This will represent a great opportunity to scale this initiative nationwide, an effort towards which the participation of private organizations will be essential. It is a call to action, where companies will be able to generate and direct their investments towards more sustainable, efficient and profitable production systems for producers, their families and suppliers of the entire food chain, recognizing that economic development and environmental conservation go hand in hand.

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