Sustainable agriculture
Ecuador

Rehabilitation of cocoa fields according to agroforestry criteria and development of good agricultural practices for the conservation of the Daule river basin


CONTEXT:

The Daule river basin is located in western Ecuador. It supplies water for both human and industrial consumption to the most populous city in Ecuador: Guayaquil. The Daule basin suffers from a range of problems: high deforestation rate, bad agricultural practices, untreated municipal wastewater discharges. These threaten both the quality and the quantity of the water that reaches the Daule River at the city supply site.

The cantons of Buena Fé, Mocache and Vinces belong to the province of Los Ríos, on the eastern side of the basin. The population of these three cantons is 210,000 inhabitants, 85% of whom are poor according to the Unsatisfied Basic Needs Index. The main economic activity is agriculture, employing 62% of the inhabitants. The main products are cocoa, corn and bananas.

UNOCACE is a cooperative of small-scale producers that brings together more than 1,200 farmers, of whom 17% are women. They belong to organizations cultivating cocoa according to agroforestry and organic criteria as well as Fairtrade and SPP regulations (International network of organizations of small organic producers – Símbolo de Pequeños Agricultores).

Three UNOCACE cocoa organizations work in this zone. The cooperative maintains an agreement with the Guayaquil Water Fund for the Conservation of the Daule River Basin (Fondagua) with the objective of promoting production practices that not only prevent contamination of water sources but also ensure their conservation.

MAIN OBJECTIVE:

Improve the sustainability of small cocoa producers in pilot areas of Buena Fé, Mocache and Vinces cantons through the development of sustainable practices for the conservation of the Daule river basin.

ACTIVITIES:

This project will promote good agricultural practices. This will be achieved through the implementation of dynamic agroforestry techniques for the rehabilitation of cocoa fields, with the aim of improved livelihoods for the producer families and the conservation of the Daule river basin. First of all, UNOCACE and FONDAGUA will socialize the project with the cocoa associations from the three cantons. The producers and their families will be informed of the current environmental issues and the role of sustainable agriculture, and producers interested in cocoa rehabilitation will be selected. They will be trained in good agricultural practices and the conservation of water sources. Plots for the implementation of the activities will be designed and monitored, leading to the rehabilitation of 170 hectares.
Among the agroforestry practices that will be promoted, native fruit and timber species will be planted, contributing to conservation of the local biodiversity, which will be monitored.
The farmers will be assisted and monitored to ensure that organic production is maintained. Finally, the development of producers’ associations to improve the cocoa value chain in the area will be strengthened.

Simultaneously a Sexual and Reproductive Health Program will be designed and implemented, with a focus on women members of farmers’ families.

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