Context of Ecuador Rural Development Program
During the 20th Century, in Ecuador and around the world, food consumption became increasingly divorced from food production, and many of our collective environmental and agricultural resources were placed at the service of commercial interests. While this “modernization” of agriculture allowed for early success in increasing production, over time it has become a driving force of social and environmental degradation across the globe.
Despite ambitious grassroots efforts to address the worrisome consequences of modern food systems, Ecuador still struggles to break free of forms of thinking, organizing and doing that underpin the foundation of our unhealthy food system. As a result, the country is heading towards a spiral of socio-environmental decline – loss in biodiversity, destruction of soils and hydric systems and severe pest problems – in addition to new chronic health concerns, including mass pesticide exposure in rural areas and malnutrition in the form of both underfed and obese people.
Groundswell’s Response to Development Challenges in Rural Ecuador
Since 2010, Groundswell International and EkoRural, an Ecuadorian NGO, have worked together to strengthen the capacity of community-based organizations in rural Ecuador to lead their own development processes that improve local food production and resilience and reinforce local food systems. The program in Ecuador is also strengthening local seed systems (improving seed quality, production, storage and distribution), promoting plant and animal biodiversity (through more diverse local farming systems), and scaling-up alternative food networks that connect small-scale farmers to urban consumer markets in order to empower and increase income generation in rural communities while providing low-income urban families with access to healthy, affordable local food.
Working together with other local partners in Ecuador, EkoRural and Groundswell have sought to initiate a fundamental shift in how people think, act, and organize for change, and we are playing an important role in the ongoing debates around food security and, especially, food sovereignty. We are using the lessons emerging from our experiences to enable Ecuador to shift policy toward food sovereignty – essentially, food for the people, of the people, by the people.
Below is a slide show outlining some of Ekorural’s and Groundswell’s work in Ecuador: